The Fears of a Four-Year Old Superhero

My four-year old son has four superhero capes, he is very careful to choose the right one to wear on a given day.

He has two different superhero identities. They are Super Greyson and The Grey Lightning.  Super Greyson can fly, The Grey Lightning can run fast; both fight bad guys and monsters.

And yet, for all of these capabilities, my son (like any normal four-year old) has fears. So far there has not been a concern about monsters in the closet; we’ve been avoiding Monsters, Inc. for that reason (While I love the film, Pixar you open a possibility of a can of worms with that one!), but there are others that have crept up to surprise both his mother and myself.

Bad Guys

You think a superhero would be okay with bad guys, but his fear of them seems to have really grown in the last few months.

Here is an example, I’ve been planning a special day for the two of us. After the birth of my daughter, I’ve tried to do these from time to time to show that he is special and not forgotten in the distraction of a new baby. This time it was to be a Star Wars day. I would suck it up and take him to see Episode 1 in 3D and that would be followed by lunch and maybe a new Star Wars figure from the store. The day would rock, plus when you think about it Episode 1 is made for 4-year olds, not adults (How else can you explain Jar Jar and little Annie?).

So to get him excited I showed him the trailer for Episode 1 and the second Darth Maul appeared on the screen he took off like a shot out of the room. I tried to brush off that moment by talking about the film and the day, but each time I’ve since tried to show him the trailer, I’ve gotten the same reaction. The last time was on his bed before going to sleep and it was via my iPhone, and even then he moved away quickly, almost falling off the bed; not daring to look at that “angry red face.”

The thing I find fascinating about this reaction is that in no point in the trailer does anyone say “Wow, Darth Maul is a bad guy, we should be scared.” Yes, he looks scary, but in my opinion so do many good guy superheroes (Martian Manhunter in his speedos and cape, for example. Who dresses like that!?); so what is clicking for him that it is a bad guy? And why is it clicking so much that he feels the need to escape.

So in a way, I get to avoid seeing Phantom Menace again—which is kind of a good thing—but I still feel like he would have liked it. Yet, I’m not going to force him to see something to prove a point. We move on.

I have to say though, as much as Greyson runs from Darth Maul it does not equal the great escape of the Backson from Winnie the Pooh.

On Christmas, Greyson got the new Pooh movie from Santa. He had seen it in the theater before (John Cleese as the narrator is genius!), but what he didn’t know about is that there is an added scene after the credits.

See, in the movie the characters create a monster in their mind called the “Backson.” The joke is that Christopher Robin really wrote “Back soon,” but Owl read it wrong… Anyway, at the end the real Backson, a loveable bloke with a funny voice, appears and falls into the trap they made in the movie. Great comic twist, right?

Well, on Christmas morning when I innocently said, “Greyson, look it’s the Backson.”  All of the wonders of the holiday escaped in an instance and he left that couch with only a cloud of dust in his place, just like a Road Runner cartoon.  I had never seen my son run so fast in my life! At that moment, his mother and I truly wondered if The Grey Lightning does have the super power of speed.

Flying

Ever since my son could talk he has told us about Disneyland.

Every time we start a Disney show or movie on the TV and the castle appears, he tells us that it is Disneyland (many times in an awed, hushed whisper with a little twinkle in his eye: Daddy, that is Disneyland…) Part of this was my doing, I admit it. I used to live in Los Angeles and had an annual pass each year. So I told him about it, I have some soundtracks of rides that I’ve been known to play. Yeah, I am at fault here. Guilty.

Yet, in the last month, he has decided he doesn’t want to go to Disneyland because he doesn’t want to fly in an airplane. This came out of left field in a way, because just this last summer he would point at every helicopter and plane flying over our house and declare that each and every one of them were on their way to the Magic Kingdom.  Now they are all still going there, just without him.

I’ve asked him about this a few times trying to figure out what has happened with him and planes, and I think I finally have the answer.

Duck Tales.

Recently, my son has discovered the Disney cartoon from the 80’s called Duck Tales and in it is a character named Launchpad McQuack, who is the worse pilot in the world. The joke is that Scrooge McDuck will rather pay for a bad pilot who might crash his plane than a good pilot  who costs more; he is that cheap. Well, Launchpad seems to crash a plane in every episode and many times the characters will scream as the plane plummets.

Does that mean he thinks all planes are flown by giant silly ducks, or has that show simply taught him that planes can crash and he didn’t know that before? Whatever the case, the idea of putting him on a plane would probably be traumatic for both him and his parents… So Disneyland has to wait.

My Issue With Fear

The fact is I take his fears personally, which is probably ridiculous on my part; and I need to watch that.

I try logic all the time, for example, I’ve tried to explain again and again the difference between TV, a story, and reality; but, since he is four, it is a little too abstract for him to figure out.

The fact that really stings for me is that he doesn’t seem to get comfort during moment of fear with my presence. While it was funny that he ran out of the room by the mere hint of the Backson in Winnie The Pooh, I was still right next to him on the couch when he took off like a shot. And when I tell him that I will be sitting next to him on the plane if we were to fly, that doesn’t change his mind either.

So in a way, I guess I want to be my son’s superhero, his protector, and I am not cutting it. Maybe I need a cape?

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2 responses

  1. Kids are weird. My youngest is convinced that Santa is going to eat him. I can’t explain.

    Congrats on worming out of seeing Episode 1. My consolation is that my 9 year old wants his DAD to take him, not me!

    • As much as I hate the SW prequel movies, I did love the original films growing up. There was a magic there for me that is hard for me to dismiss no matter how much I am reminded of Anakin complaining about sand and Jar Jar tripping over things. And I figure, if Gmy little superhero is going to like the series in some regards what a great way to see it for the first time then on the big screen in 3D… So, in a way, I didn’t want to see it, but I wanted to give it to him. Odd, huh? I can’t explain it either…

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