Parenting a SuperHero

Last weekend dawned the arrival of a new kid on the block. A fearless, pharm ferocious, feisty four year old type. In his white t-shirt and wellington boots he rules with a mighty force. All those who cross his path – beware. One zap from his big foam letter ‘W’ and before you know it, you’ll be ‘wobbly’ or ‘whistling’ or ‘woolly’. He charges around wildly, as much as welly boots will allow, calling his now infamous ‘WOW’ catchphrase when he spots you. Make haste quick, for you only have a moments notice to run before you are turned into a Witch or a Wizard or a Wigwam…..

His presence should have come as no surprise, his predecessors, the more widely known Spiderman, Batman, and Superman, have been hanging around for the last month or so. Shooting webs, catching baddies and saving the world. Capes have been fashioned from pillowcases, the cosy reading corner in the playroom has morphed into a sinister, dark bat cave and pants have been worn over trousers. Long gone are fluffy animals and farmyard fun. We’re in a new era now.

Meet ‘W’-Man!

W-Man loves Wednesdays.

W-Man loves watermelon. And windsurfing apparently.

W-Man loves waffles and watches and whizzing around.

W-Man is like no other superhero. The mastermind creation of a four year old boy who by day goes by the name of Elias. He’s strong. He’s fast. His weapon of choice is a large letter ‘W’ from a set of outdoor ‘alphabet letter’ foam play mats that he discovered at the back of the garage. Look at him go. He thinks he has the upper hand with his ‘wowing’ and whirling and whooshing.

But, like all superheroes he has a nemesis.

Little did he realise that whilst Mum was silently panicking about this new found obsession with superheroes*, wondering whether this now quashed his plans to become a zookeeper, or a vet or a cow(!), a plan to capitalise on W-Man’s arrival was taking shape. MOO WAH HA HA HA HA …..

So, W-Man – you choose to fight your battles with your big foam ‘W’ – then you’ll only be interested in things that begin with that letter then surely?

Tell me W-Man – what foods can you think of that begin with ‘W’? What objects do you know that begin with the letter ‘W’? What action words can we think of that begin with the letter ‘W’? Does W-Man Run? Not in the house. Absolutely not. W-Man Walks. And surely ‘W’ man needs to practice writing the letter W on his (Spiderman) chalk board….

I’ve left a few more of those mats discretely lying around. I think its time we started considering another superhero. Who’ll be next? L-Man with his love for lemons, lollypops, lazing and laughing? T-Man turning everyone into tigers, teapots and tyrannosaurus rex with just one zap from his mighty foam T?

Bring it on superhero boy – I’m ready for you. You’re immune to my language building and letter learning super powers. MOO WAH HA HA HA HA…

*As an aside, and I hope helpful – having researched, canvassed opinion and discussed with pre-school carers and teachers whether superhero play was something to be concerned about (all that violence and talk of baddies!) I’ve been reassured that superhero play shouldn’t be discouraged.

Superhero play provides lots of opportunities to discuss and explore issues of right or wrong, talk to children about safety, responsibility and self control. As superhero play usually takes place in groups, as well as helping forge friendships, it teaches children about treating one another kindly, co-operation and working as a team to solve a common problem, and may also help develop empathy and recognition of how others are feeling. The creativity that comes from long drawn out superhero scenarios knows no bounds; pretending to be a brave superhero can provide opportunities for considering how frightening situations could be dealt with and overcome. Pretending to have new powers, needing to be brave or strong can help children with the confidence to try new things out. The wearing of an eyemask or a cape might just be the tangible element that gives that confidence. All that running around saving the world and having super powers also develops physical abilities – running, jumping (flying!) and helps expend energy. And in my experience even the toughest of superheroes needs between 10 – 12 hours sleep a night!

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Moving On

This coming Thursday marks the end of an era.  Little Princess Pink will go to her private day care nursery for the very last time. Eek, cialis eek and double eek.  My eyes well up, find my bottom lip trembles and I could physically hurl every time I think about it. Of course there is the excitement of this being the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next  – “big school” –  but she has gone there since she was 6 months old when she regularly spat up on me and couldn’t yet crawl. Yet here she is today, infinitely taller and most definitely wiser, spitting is something the boys taught her how to do and crawling has progressed to scaling trees and wild and somewhat amusing interpretations of street dance in the middle of the living room floor. She has blossomed in every way and each and every day she takes me by surprise, be it with a quick witted comment, a perfectly recited rendition of ‘Aboot a Haggis’, or a glued photo collage of 14 different items from the Argos catalogue that constitutes her Christmas list (apparently it was easier than writing it out so she tells me, and so lovely that she clearly takes after her mother in the ‘being uber organised stakes’.)

She has confidence in just the right measure, social skills which allow her to make new friends easily, and a kindness which melts my heart.  Yes, she can be a bossy little madam, and I’ll let Super Daddy pass comment on where she might get that trait from, and she answers back and takes the huff like every other five year old I know. But her desire to learn more about others and the world we live in gives me comfort that school will provide the right challenge and stretch she is so ready for.

My emotion when I think about Thursday doesn’t come from me feeling it’s too early for her to move on.  I simply can’t believe we’ve gotten to this point so quickly. Clichéd as it is, it feels like only yesterday I held her in my arms for the first time, my beautiful, red and wrinkly, 9lbs newborn baby. At this time of year, just a few weeks after her birthday, I often find myself thinking of those midnight feeds in the early weeks, quickly followed by a 2am feed and another one just a swift three hours later. I remember sitting on the rocking chair, in that half awake / half dozy state, listening to the contented little noises that came from her as the warm milk filled her little tum. Many a time I thought of all the other mothers across the world doing exactly the same in their own homes with their little ones, and strangely I felt part of one big group who knew exactly what it felt like to be unconditionally in love with a person they’d only known for a matter of weeks.  The love I have for that little baby has grown with every centimetre that she has.

The excitement she has about starting school is on a par with the frenzy the nation whipped itself into earlier in the year when Kate & Wills said ‘I do’. We’re sorted with school uniform, school bag and lunch box and she has already made two cards for her new teacher – the first said “To Miss Kearney, I love you.” Hopefully this is not a sign that she is vying for top position as teachers pet, nor indeed a reflection on my ability to inappropriately tell people the extent of my true feelings (Tesco Delivery Man incident). The second more appropriately says “To Miss Kearney, I am ick sited about coming to Primary 1.”  Sniff.

Tissues are at the ready for Thursday.

We’ll be back every day of course, with Little Monster Blue, but where we leave him in the ‘Two’s’ room, there will be no going down stairs to Pre-school as we usually do. There’ll be no racing each other to the cloak room, and jumping up and down to hang her coat on her peg. There will be no ‘Come and see the giant snails Mummy’, no ‘Look at my picture on the wall, it’s a Pea, a Plate and Porridge for the ‘P’ sound of the week”. There will be no last minute hugs before skipping off to tell her friends all about the teeniest scratch she has on her knee that simply had to have a Cinderella plaster over it.  There will be no ‘Show and Tell’, no ‘Number of the week’, no adventures of Ernie, the travelling teddy bear.

But, there will be so much more to come.

I guess I’m a little ick sited.

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