Trying to keep my four-year-old under control during a christening service recently I was glad when he picked up the order of service and began to study it hard. Then he pretended to start reading
He whispered: “And this is the story of when Jesus…met Batman.”
It made my wife and I chuckle and showed a good deal of creative thinking, but it also revealed just how pre-occupied with superheroes he is. The funny thing is that he has never owned a Batman toy or worn a Spider Man outfit. He hasn’t even seen Ben 10 on the telly.
Yet for months he has been coming back from pre-school wanting to pretend to be Superman, the Incredible Hulk or one of the other iconic characters. Each game involves basically catching baddies and a certain amount of implied violence.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against superheroes per se. In fact, in my time I’ve enjoyed a Batman movie or two. But I have discovered from other parents that I am not alone in worrying that at such a young age he is not yet ready for this stuff. I would rather he was still obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine or Postman Pat than the Green Lantern or Power Rangers.
The main reason for my concern has been that superhero play tends to involve too many themes of death and destruction. And what I find startling is the idea that it is so powerful that my son has latched on to it through simply playing with other children. I fear how obsessed he could become if he actually started watching superhero shows on the television.