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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