Let your kid wear the cape.

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This past year has been a lot of fun for many different reasons.  One of my main sources of fun has been introducing my two-year-old to some of my favorite super hero TV shows and movies.  We’re talking Adam West, 1966 Batman type awesomeness here.  In addition to this, Lego Batman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and PJ Masks have taken over the airwaves at the Delk house as of late.  We (The men of the house) are enjoying our time, for we know a little girl named Jovie Marie Delk will be coming very soon.  I recognize that the frequency of those airwaves will most likely shift; therefore, we will enjoy our dude shows why we still can. 

Over the course of the summer, we were able to take a few trips.  Our last family vacation we rode down to Tampa Bay, Florida.  This would have been a normal vacation in every sense of the word.  The plan was to go down and spent a couple days on the beach.  Take in a Tampa Bay Rays MLB game and simply have a great time.  It was a great vacation, but something occurred on this vacation that I was not prepared for and we just kind of rolled with it.  Our son Conrad would not go anywhere, and I mean anywhere without his batman mask and his batman gloves on.  We didn’t argue with him, we helped him put his gloves on secured the mask on his face and we had a great time.  Granted, there were times where sand got in the gloves, the mask fell into a fish tank at the Florida Aquarium and we almost got hit with a foul ball at the Rays game due to a certain someone’s mental breakdown when his Batman glove had to be removed in order to eat nachos.  

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It was a great vacation, but what returned was a little boy who was just beginning to recognize his full potential as an aspiring kid superhero.  He was just beginning to understand his powers.  After about a week of coming home from Tampa, he found a red cape and a red mask.  This was his “Superman Cape” but his “Robin Mask.”  Combining superheroes at such a young age almost brought a tear to my eye.  When Conrad hit me in the privates with a toy sword and yelled “I’m Leonardo.”  Tears poured.  Since then, it’s been a steady mash up of super hero names and toys.  He’ll sometimes combine them but often he just goes around a room full of people and informs them of their new name. “You’re Riddler,” ‘You’re Joker,” “You’re Catboy!” “I’m Captain Americer!” (you read that right).  You get the picture.  The boy loves his superheroes, and he loves play fighting, wrestling and just being a boy with his older brother too.   

All this to say, it got me thinking.  I am thankful my son has an imagination.  I’m even more thankful for my wife, grandparents and friends that allow that imagination to thrive.  We go over to granna’s house, or walk into CrossFit, Conrad is greeted based off his attire.  One day, he’s Ironman, the next day, he’s Batman.  Either way, he is encouraged, which only adds to the imagination that’s going 90 MPH in his head. I love it. 

Now, I’m a realist and there may be some of you reading this that disagree with what we have allowed our son to do.  I see the looks we get from time to time from people, and while I can’t read minds, I can pretty much guess what they’re thinking.  Some might not understand, and some might not want to understand.  That’s perfectly fine.  However, I would like to lay out a few things I have come to realize as it relates to kids wearing superhero attire in public... 

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  • I think its awesomely funny, and the world could use some laughter right now.  I don’t care if it’s to a catfish house (preferably Charlie’s Catfish) or to Walmart, my son is going to want to wear some type of hero fandom.  Be it a mask, a cape or some sort of special gloves that emit a poor representation of spider-man silk, 9 times out of 10 times he’s going to have some sort of hero attire on.  What can I say, he’s consistent.  I also don’t care that he does.  I’m just jealous they don’t have those things in adult sizes readily available to me. 

  • Let your child be their own person.  These are formative years and if you want to parent them in a box and force them to wear only long pants and T-shirts that are starched and ironed that’s totally your business and your decision.  It’s not mine however, and if allowing my boys to go somewhere and they pretend to be the hero they see on TV or in a comic book, then maybe – just maybe, they grow up with some hero attributes of their own. 

  • It will brighten up other people’s day.  Trust me on this.  We were in the mall and we are walking by a group of about six or seven ladies who were having dinner.  My son is on my hip, outfitted with batman gloves along with a batman mask.  The ladies notice him and say, “Well look at this young man, now who are you?”  Conrad answers, “I’m Batman!” and holds his hands in the air in full-fledged super hero mode.  They laughed. I was proud. 

  • They’ll inspire you.  I was recently attending a festival where we were selling our children’s books. I noticed a mom carrying your son on her hip in the normal ‘he’s a toddler and has broken feet’ way, so I immediately recognized this and felt the mom’s pain.  Then I looked at the child.  He was decked out, head to toe in a pirate costume.  One that would make Jack Sparrow proud.  I thought of Conrad and his antics with outfits.  Looked back at this kid enjoying his own persona for the day and thought...What if adults did this?  Seriously, what if...could you imagine going to work and wearing a superman cape because it was Tuesday and you felt awesome.  What would the reaction be?  Now don’t get me wrong, I would look twice at a co-worker who did that, but I would also be inspired by their audacity to be an individual.  

  • Lastly, and this is a BIG one.  What’s it going to hurt?  In the long run, really, what’s it going to hurt.  Your kid isn’t embarrassed by wearing an outfit they love, but I'm certain that you as a parent might be.  Thinking things like, “What will the neighbors think” “What if I run into someone from Church” “What if they judge my parenting skills” Who. Cares.  The only person worrying about that is you, and if a parent judges you, then they probably are wearing a very starched and ironed T-shirt.  So, what’s it going to hurt to let your kids live it up for the short time that they can.  Eventually (and unfortunately) the media will be shaping your child's opinion of themselves without you even realizing it or some bully in school will call them a name for being an individual and then a smartphone will take over their lives.  Again, what’s it going to hurt. 

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Now, in the not so near future you as a parent/uncle/guardian or babysitter are going to be faced with a possible dilemma.  A costume of some kind will in the house and a child will want to put it on, either before the designated costume time (Oct 31st) or after, say Nov 16th.  What do you do?  Do you let your kid be Bumblebee from Transformers when you have to go to the parts store?  Do you let them be Snow White while you have to go to the Dollar General and pick up some odds and ends?  Do you let them wear superman boots and put on a Green lantern mask in Kroger?  These are decisions that A.) I hope you have to make and B.) Allow them to do so.  In the end, if it’s between wearing a superman cape or a starched and ironed T-shirt...I say, let your kid wear the cape.