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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

An Open Letter to Batman


Welcome to the March 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Everyday Superheroes
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have talked about the remarkable people and characteristics that have touched their lives. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
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Dear Batman,
I have a lot of questions for you.  But to begin, let me help you understand. 
My life is steeped in your presence.
I have a kid. He is three. Despite all of my efforts to divert the development of his super powers, he chooses to emulate you – The Dark Knight, The Caped Crusader, The Head Honcho of The Dynamic Duo, The Greatest Detective in the World. Therefore, I live with you.
I wake up with you. I take you to the bathroom. I drive you around in the various Bat Vehicles. I help protect your secret identity as I explain to everyone that despite being fully regaled in bat attire you are in fact Bruce Wayne when we are in public, NOT Batman. Like you, I have been bitten by the Great White Shark. I have been sprayed with bat spray shark repellant. In the dark hours of night, when the city and citizens sleep, I watch you swing from the bat rope (perhaps not meant to hold your weight) as you keep an eye out for the Bat Signal. I hold my breath and tongue as you slide down the banisters (the Bat Pole) to battle Joker, Two Face, the Penguin, and Cat Woman in my living room, remembering that you are learning about gravity and exerting your power as you jump off of the arms of the couch and the coffee table. I carry you to the Bat Cave when you are weary from fighting villains. I tuck you into the Bat Bed and kiss your head as I remove your mask and cape because I fear that they will choke you in the night.
You might think of me as being like Robin or Alfred. But I am not.
I am Mama.
I know, I know. Your Mom was murdered when you were young and you have spent your life seeking revenge (often violent) on criminals in the name of justice. I am sorry. Horrific. Unimaginable. I am not sure what to say to you about that. I am not sure what to say to my kid about that either. He really wants to know. Because, you see, he really, really wants to be YOU. I am just not good at death, especially being orphaned. So, can you please tell me exactly how to explain to my three year old how you became Batman?
I would also like to know how to make a cape that is safe for my Little Batman. He uses anything that resembles a cape, ties it around his neck, and dangles from poles (towel rods), walks down stairs, and climbs the walls. I need a cape that won’t trip him, strangle him, or leave marks on his neck. One that he can remove or put on quickly so that at the moment his true identity could be compromised or a villain is approaching so he doesn’t have to ask his Mom for help (because really? that is just not cool). More importantly, how I can make a cape that will protect my Little Batman’s heart?  That will keep it soft and gentle and help him remain connected to the world, to life and all of its beauty and tragedy.
I understand that you do not really have any super powers. You have developed your intellect, spirit, and physical self to battle your enemies. I get that. I do. We are working on those things. So why do you look so juiced up these days Batman? How much protein powder do you put in your smoothies?  I have tried and tried to explain to my little Batman that superheroes need healthy foods to fight crime. He still won’t eat vegetables. So, can you stop putting your picture all over junk foods that my little Batman sees in the supermarket? Please send me your meal plans and make it official looking so that he will be enticed. And Batman, can you reassure me that even though he so badly wants to be you he will know that true strength doesn’t come from being super cut? That what you look like on the outside isn’t a clear reflection of what lies inside? Can you tell me with confidence that despite your emphasis on fighting, he will develop all the parts of himself and overcome the most difficult of enemies any of us have, ourselves?
And while we are on the subject, let me address some of your violent tendencies.
In my house, violence is not tolerated. We don’t hit people. Not even the enemy. Well okay, little Batman sometimes hits people. But we talk about it and why it’s not okay. And one day, hopefully, he won’t hit anymore. He’s getting better at not hitting. But despite your sleuthing and outsmarting it always seems to boil down to a fight accentuated by awesome sound effects that only make it all look the more attractive.  And my Little Batman wants to be YOU.  So as you can see, you are working against me. I think it would be best for all of us (particularly little Batman’s sister), if you could model the intellectual and spiritual aspects of your power a bit more please. Maybe develop your creative side a bit more - you could use your weapons to make sculptures or something. Okay? (This one is actually an order not a request).
Next let me address your treatment of women.
On one hand, I have yet to see you hit a woman. (And let me tell you, I preview EVERYTHING.) I have seen you out-science Poison Ivy and out-smart Cat Woman. You tend to use your Bat rope and various Bat gasses when it comes to capturing villainesses. And even though these criminals ultimately have to be caught, I can’t say that I agree with your tactics of tying up and drugging women.
In addition, whether villainess or superheroine, the women you work with are anatomic anomalies. Their legs and waists could never sustain the weight of their busts and hips. I don’t know who you have to talk to about this but please, real women’s bodies are powerful and beautiful.  
Further, the female superheroes we have seen are merely an extension of their counterparts, as Bat “girl” is merely an extension of yourself. So, I am telling you right now I promote Wonder Woman. And when you team up with her or any other heroine to fight crime don’t offer to pick off the bigger criminal or use your advanced Bat tools. Treat her as your equal. (Also a demand). Your chivalry is patronizing.
So Batman, how are you going to help me make sure that my Little Batman is going to grow up and treat women with respect and dignity?  That includes not assuming that women need help or “saving.” That he will not abuse the power and privilege that comes with being a white male. That he will listen, admire, and support. That he will speak out against injustices against women and minorities.
This is a job for Batman. I would like a response from you. It’s a big responsibility that you have. And frankly, I need some support in raising a kid that really, really wants to be YOU. Get to your bat computer and get me some real good bat answers. Because otherwise I might have to let everyone in on our dirty little secret…
I am the REAL superhero. I am the one patiently, curiously, fearlessly, growing a beautiful, tenderhearted, brilliantly spirited, feminist little boy. A little boy who lets me know at the end of really busy Bat Day, “Mama? I don’t want to be Batman right now. I just want to be Babe-O.”
When you have answers, just send the bat signal. We know what it looks like and we are waiting.
Respectfully,
Mama

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by afternoon March 11 with all the carnival links.)
  • I Am A Super Hero — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how she learned the hard way exactly what it means to be a real super hero and not a burned out shell of a human simply pretending to be one.
  • Quiet Heroics — Heroism doesn't have to be big and bold. Read how Jorje of Momma Jorje is a quiet hero…and how you probably are, too.
  • Not a Bang, but a Whisper {Carnival of Natural Parenting} — Meegs at A New Day talks about the different types of "superheroes," ones that come in with a bang and ones that come in with a whisper.
  • Silent courage of motherhood in rural Cambodia — Nathalie at Kampuchea Crossings marvels at how rural Khmer women defy the odds in childbirth.
  • Super PappyMother Goutte's little boy met a superhero in checked slippers and Volkswagen Polo, his grand dad: Super Pappy!
  • An Open Letter to Batman — Kati at The Best Things challenges Batman to hold up his end of the deal, in the name of social justice, civic duty, and a little boy named Babe-O!
  • My Village — Kellie at Our Mindful Life reflects on the people who helped her to become her best self.
  • 5 Lessons My Kids Taught Me — Children are amazing teachers, when we only stop to listen. They remind us to choose happiness, to delight in the small things, to let go and forgive. There is so much we can learn from our children. Justine at The Lone Home Ranger shares a few of the lessons she's learned.
  • Could you use some superpowers? — Tat at Mum in search shares a fun activity to help you connect with your own superpowers.
  • Like Fire Engines — Tam at tinsenpup tells the story of the day she saw a surprising superhero lurking in the guise of her not entirely mild-mannered four-year-old daughter.
  • Everyday Superheroes — Erica at ChildOrganics shares her list of Walker Warburg Syndrome Superheroes that have touched her life forever.
  • My Superhero of the Week: Nancy GallagherTribal Mama muses about the transcendent things her superhero mom has done.
  • My choice in natural birth does not make me a super hero — Bianca, The Pierogie Mama, discusses her thoughts on her experience with the perception of natural birth and putting those mamas on a different level. Does giving birth naturally give cause for an extra pat on the back? No! All mamas, no matter how they birth, are superheroes.
  • Someone's Hero — Sometimes being a parent means pretending to be a grown-up, but it always means you are someone's hero. Read Mandy's lament at Living Peacefully with Children.
  • Growing into a Super Hero — Casey at Joyful Courage shares how owning our behavior and choosing to be a better parent, a better person, is an act of courage.
  • A Math Superhero — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling writes that her 7-year-old daughter's superhero is an MIT-trained mathematician.
  • It Starts With Truffula Trees And Tulips — Luschka of Diary of a First Child takes a hard look at the realities of her relationship with her mother, and through this post goes on a journey of discovery that ends in a surprise realisation for her.
  • We Don't Need an Excuse — Maria Kang (aka "Hot Mom") asks women #WhatsYourExcuse for not being in shape? Dionna at Code Name: Mama asks Hot Mom what her excuse is for not devoting her life to charity work, or fostering dozens of stray dogs each year, or advocating for the needs of others. Better yet, Code Name: Mama says, how about we realize that every woman has her own priorities. Focus on your own, and stop judging others for theirs.
  • It's not heroic when you're living it — Lauren at Hobo Mama knows from the inside that homeschooling does not take a hero, and that much of what we choose as parents is simply what works best for us.
  • Superheroes, princesses and preschoolers — Garry at Postilius discusses why his preschool-age son is not ready for comic book superheroes.
  • The Loving Parents of Children with Special Needs – Everyday Superheroes — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares posts with resources for parents of children with special needs along with posts to help others know how to support parents of children with special needs.
  • Everyday Empathy — Mommy Giraffe of Little Green Giraffe shares why her secret superpower is everyday empathy.
  • The Simplicity of Being a Superhero — Ana at Panda & Ananaso explains what superheroes mean to her wise three-year-old.
  • My Father, The Hero — Fathers are pretty amazing; find out why Christine at The Erudite Mom thinks hers is the bees knees.

13 comments:

  1. Oh this is so spot-on. I had a little Batman too. He's currently more of a Ninja (oh the ninja moves), but much of what you wrote still holds true.
    p.s. I made this cape when my own Batman demanded something easy on/easy off: http://codenamemama.com/2011/02/24/superhero-capes/ (tutorial is linked in the post)

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    1. Thanks for your comment and the link to the cape! Cool reuse of found fabrics! We have an older son who enjoys ninjas. We have some sneaky, much more silent moves to look forward to!

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  2. Love your little Bat dude's ending line! It is such a balance, isn't it, the prevailing superhero messages with what we actually want to pass along to our children.

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  3. Sure is a balance and even a battle some days.

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  4. Wow, you sure know a whole lot about Batman! You are the real superhero and in your heart you already know and you're so sure what you want for your boy. I still hope you get that bat signal back, so that Batman and you (and all of us) can be on the same side.

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    1. I know! It scares me how much I know about Batman, especially when I hear myself automatically reply to Little Batman in "bat speak." Ha! It's amazing the things we can learn when it comes to our children.

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  5. I love this post! You perfectly captured what is fun and appealing - but at the same time problematic - about comic book superheroes. You seem to be doing a wonderful job balancing the pros and cons of these characters with your son.

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  6. Thanks Garry! I do hope that the messages I can easily write to Batman come across to my son. It can be easy to point out the pros and cons and not so easy to balance the ways they materialize in real life. I just keep trying. With no word from Batman as of yet. :)

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  7. That was an adorable take on children's love for superheroes. My 2-year-old is starting to love Batman so I will be taking a few pointers from you here!

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    1. Thanks Jaye! I have a post coming on superhero painting (as soon as Little Batman takes a bat break). I'll be sure to add the link here if you are interested check it out.

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    2. FInally! And as promised...here is the link to "Paint Like A Superhero!"
      /2014/04/paint-like-superhero.html

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  8. I think this is a very powerful piece of writing. These heavily marketed heroes our babies revere, they really should have to answer these questions. The ending had me feeling quite emotional.

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