Quick story - a great superhero takedown by my 4-year old daughter at kindergarten recently…
She loves adventure movies like Flash Gordon and Sinbad, right now watching Journey to the Centre of the Earth with James Mason, but Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are her favourites, the classic stuff especially and she’s really into 1960s Justice League in particular, soaking every detail up like a sponge when she watches the cartoons or I read her in the comics. It’s all just kind of her thing and I love it because it’s always been my thing too.
Anyway, she comes home from kindergarten a few weeks back and asks to watch these really bad Barbie cartoons we KNOW she was never interested in before. They were every bit as cynical and badly made as you can imagine, really just adverts for toys and insecurities and reinforcing the worst gender stereotypes we’ve always avoided when raising daughters. What’s worse is that we know she doesn’t even LIKE this stuff and only half-watching, but it turns out two boys both came dressed as Batman that morning and when she asked to play with them they turned her down, saying girls aren’t supposed to play at Batman and to make matters worse some of the other girls confirmed this.
So she’s home, quietly despondent about the fact she’s no longer supposed to be into this thing she loves so much and we’re completely furious, but there’s nothing you can do. She gradually starts watching it all again, but that first blood of conformity has been drawn and we’re worried about school when this is only going to get reinforced.
Anyway, last week they’re out in the pre-school garden and the teachers have a superhero day and quiz for all the kids. The boys think they’re going to romp home, but their knowledge is pretty much just the Marvel movies. My 4-year old has around 50 years of Marvel and DC back-history programmed into her tiny brain and she ANNIHILATES them on every question, not just naming heroes but adding info about their secret identities, their careers, their best friends and everything else you can imagine, everyone watching open mouthed and one of the teachers saying it was like watching Neo fighting at the end of the Matrix. She compounds this by turning around to the two boys from earlier, both dressed as Batman again for Superhero Day, and literally taking apart every continuity error in their costumes. As you know, kid costumes have to cut corners… but she’s brutal, pointing out everything from missing utility belts to missing yellow ovals and the wrong boots.
The end result? She obsessively watched Batman and Wonder Woman over breakfast Saturday and Sunday, her alpha-female status at kindergarten confirmed and her 4 year old enemies both fearing and respecting her knowledge of DC heroes (1966-1978 in particular)!!!