Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I'm Guest Blogging on Again has invited me to guest blog again. (Thanks, Elizabeth!) Check out a new daddy story on Monday, July 26. In case you missed my June 28 posting on DullesMoms, I've posted it below.

Elmo Has Never Punched Anyone

I should really think twice about some of the characters I introduce to my sons. Kung Fu Panda is one of my three-year-old’s favorite animated films. He’s fascinated by Tai Lung, the evil snow leopard determined to terrorize the inhabitants of the Valley of Peace. Today he acted the scene where Tai Lung breaks his bonds and escapes from prison. Our living room blanket was cast aside like shattered shackles and my boy growled and proclaimed, “I’m Tai Lung!” The menacing scowl on his little face was so frighteningly cute that I totally dropped my guard and took a stiff left jab to my right eye. Lying on my back wondering if my kid had just given me a shiner, I couldn’t muster any anger toward him. We play pretty rough, so it was just a matter of time until he beat my defense. But still, I asked myself why he couldn’t impersonate Elmo, or even Barney the lame dinosaur. Those chump characters never do battle.

Battles and who would win them is a normal conversation around our house. “Daddy, no one can beat Spiderman?” “Daddy, no one can beat Chewbacca?” “Daddy, Obi Wan Kenobi took care of business when he blasted General Grievous?” Yes, our living room is full of Marvel, DC and Star Wars characters. At bedtime, I often share YouTube videos from my iPhone. I learned pretty quickly that the Emperor in Star Wars is too scary for toddlers. Seeing Yoda sizzle and shake from the lightning crackling from the hooded Sith lord’s fingers was a little much. We still watch YouTube videos, but we stick to cartoon clips of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers, Spiderman and Batman.

Speaking of Batman, my 15-month-old’s third word was Batman – right after ma-ma and da-da. Sure, he calls every superhero figurine Batman, but it’s still a point of pride with me. I love it when his older brother corrects him, too. “No, that’s Wolverine, not Batman.” Like most younger siblings, he is infatuated with his older brother and imitates his every move. Needless to say, I’m fighting off attacks from both boys these days.

I hope my boys learn to appreciate my wife and I for sending them to daycare dressed in Spiderman shirts, Power Ranger hats, Lighting McQueen shoes and camouflage shorts. During a recent daycare drop-off, I witnessed my three-year-old comparing shirts with his classmates. Even at his age the kids are assigning status to branded clothing. Plain or striped shirts just aren’t cool enough for these guys. I remember as a kindergartner faking a need to use the bathroom just so I could shed my long-sleeve, pearl button, flannel shirts and reveal my A-Team, Dukes of Hazard and Spiderman Underoos. I guess things haven’t changed that much in thirty years.

We’ve watched the final battle between Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon about a zillion times. It’s a great fight. One of the most rewarding experiences I enjoy as a father is when my oldest son tears off his shirt and declares, “I’m Chuck Norris!” I may have to dodge imaginary webs, absorb left hooks, shin kicks and head butts, but sharing the wicked delights of pop culture with my sons is so worth it.

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