Keeping Mum

Dita De Boni looks at the trials and tribulations of being a parent.

When superheroes aren't so super

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Like many mums with young kids up and down the country, I'm involved with Plunket up to my eyeballs.

Not only, of course, taking my little dears to their various and regular appointments but also volunteering to help fundraise at my local branch.

All this is not said to impress, dear reader! It's simply to let you all know about a brand new form of the dreaded "PC gone-mad"-ness I've encountered recently.

The Plunket Appeal catchphrase this year is "Be A Superhero to Under 5s". A fantastic sentiment.

And what is envisaged is a day, during the appeal, when all kids dress as their favourite superhero and bring a gold coin donation to their kindy, playcentre, or daycare provider in order to raise some extra moula for the organisation.

But hold on! As we've found out a tad too late (the marketing materials are already printed) many preschools around the country ban children dressing up as superheroes.

Why? you may well ask. Well, it's been said that when children don the mask of the caped crusader or pull on Spiderman's tights, general bolshiness increases.

Behaviour becomes uncontrollable. Competitiveness spirals out of control - presumably between superheroes, but also, one suspects, the pressure on parents to stump up for some magnificent outfit for their little cherub.

I suppose it was only a matter of time before this avenue of fun was also extinguished for many children in group care - along with peanut butter sandwiches, bullrush, and no-hat sunny days. And let's be honest, the kids themselves won't probably care too much.

Furthermore, who would these superheroes be? Probably mainly Spiderman, Superman and the Incredible Hulk for many boys (Jeff Wiggle for my son), and some kind of fairy princess for the girls (as Superwoman is long out of vogue). There isn't a huge range of role models on offer, let's face it.

Still, it's sad to think that aspiring to have super-human aspirations, no matter how fantastical, is no longer something for the classroom. Even for the best of causes.

***

The essay I've linked to from the site Salon.com might just hit uncomfortably home for some readers. In it, the writer asks what probably all parents wonder at some time - "Is my son a jerk, or is he just 2?"

Okay, the little boy in this essay is a bully, a nasty piece of works at time and apparently once "punched an old man in the nuts". But might this describe most two year olds?

Well no, if most of the two hundred plus letters written in response to this man's frank musings are the court of public opinion. They seem to place the blame for the child's unruly behaviour squarely on the shoulders of his parents.

A fascinating, and very funny, read (including the letters)!

- Dita De Boni

Pictured above: Many preschools have banned kids from dressing up as their favourite superhero. Photo / Supplied

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