Rewind 8 months or so ago and it was one of the happiest days of my life. My then two-year-olds learned to say Hulk and Spider-man… they couldn’t string a sentence together, but they could recognise some of my favourite things!
As a kid I absolutely loved all things ‘super’ related. My first love was probably the Thunder Cats (still haven’t quite forgiven my mum for getting rid of all those figures) and it progressed into the world of Marvel. X-men specifically. I was obsessed! So, when the boys started showing ANY signs of liking superhero ‘stuff’ I jumped on it. It was also a welcome relief from Thomas the Tank and Peppa Pig!
It sent me into a haze, into a spiral of negative behaviour, my addiction was back! I couldn’t (still can’t in truth) go to a shop without buying them something new; Hulk socks, Iron Man hoodies, Spider-man caps, Incredibles figures… you name they have it. This picture is just a sample of what we have in our house now!
I can’t deny it, I’ve loved every minute watching them play with their toys, getting excited about wearing a new t-shirt or pair of socks just because they have ‘supers’ on them.
The boy’s birthdays brought great joy when Grandma & Grampa bought them their first dressing up costumes and I couldn’t help but join them in dressing up, as you saw in our ‘ten things that make me happy‘ blog.
Listening to Jay shout ‘Hulk SMASH’ as he ran around looking like he was carrying two tellies (scouse joke) gave me such a buzz.
Alas, this superhero fantasy has started to take a turn and is causing me some concerns… and not just because of the amount of trouble I get in every time Craig comes home and the kids run up to him to show the new toys… which for the record they were told in no uncertain terms, that they were not to let Dad see them!
My concerns started a few weeks ago when we took the boys to Cineworld for their first cinema experience. We went to see Incredibles 2 because they loved the first one so much… and now had the pyjamas… and a few of the character figures… I’ve got an addiction, don’t judge me!
Our first mistake was that we didn’t acknowledge the fact that it was a PG, until we were sat in there already. There were a few parts in it which get quite dark and some really brutal fight scenes (no spoilers I promise) and it was one of those moments where the kids are watching the screen and you’re glued to them watching for their reaction thinking ‘that’s just bought us some sleepless nights’. But luckily they haven’t seemingly been fazed by it.
Last weekend, I was sat having a brew with Haribo playing next to me on the sofa with his new small figures… IT’S AN ADDICTION PEOPLE!
Now some of them look a bit mean but I didn’t dare try to hide some for fear of the beast. He calls them all ‘superheroes’ and I’ve managed to stop myself correcting him, despite the voices in my head screaming ‘that ones a villain’.
He was happily playing away in his own little world, when suddenly he started repeatedly hitting one with the other and shouting ‘SMASSSSH‘ quite aggressively for him, which really took me back. I was quick in my response ‘that’s not nice, we don’t hit toys or each other do we‘ but immediately sat and thought about how contradictory I was being. All he is doing is re-enacting what these characters do in TV shows and films. Characters that I have actively been endorsing and encouraging him to play with.
Now he hasn’t watched any Marvel films and I’ve avoided any of their cartoons too because I felt they were to aggressive and potentially scary. Although there is one series I found on DisneyLife that is much more age appropriate called ‘Superhero Adventures’, even Hulk has a smiley face in it!
However, that incident brought me right back to sitting in the cinema watching the Incredibles 2, where they were fighting and being violent and aggressive towards each other.
I am forever moaning that I spend my days refereeing the boys, not sharing, not being nice to each other, hitting or pulling hair and I know you could argue that any three-year-old can/will behave like that regardless of what they watch on TV, but it just for me felt like a total wake up call to what I am exposing them too, purposely as well!
To suddenly remove all these things from them would be a total over-reaction and also a pretty hard job given the stuff we already have in the house, such as my limited addition, Caroline Shotton ‘Spidermoo’ art work. (Disclaimer: We most definitely do NOT get a commission if you click that link and buy one… we wish! It was just an FYI link 🤣).
Instead, I’m going to try my best to explain to the boys about how these are fictional characters and that whilst we can enjoy action in cartoons, that we don’t behave like this in real life and all about how we can be ‘heroes’ in reality by helping people and being kind. Wish me luck with that one, it’s definitely going to be a lesson reiterated throughout their childhood… but the important thing for me is that I’ve had that realisation and will be more mindful in future.
It’s too easy to get caught up in the thrill of PG+ ‘stuff’ and if you’re anything like me, reliving you’re own childhood through your kids, then take a minute to remember how old you were when you loved those toys and make sure your children are being exposed to age appropriate stuff (with good role models too obvs) which is of course entirely at your discretion as a parent… I’m in no way meaning to sound preachy… it wouldn’t become me! 🤣