I absolutely love Halloween night when I get to sit on my front porch, feel a chill in the air (fingers crossed), and see our neighborhood come alive with visitors. There comes a point each Halloween when the crowds grow so big that they take over the streets, and I feel like I’m in a little kid version of the “Thriller” video.
When it comes to costumes, there is always ample representation from three big media franchises – Disney, Marvel, and DC Comics. As I look at the lines of Spidermen, princesses, and Batmen, it pleases me to see how accepting kids are of their “twins.” On Halloween, anyone who wants to be Ariel gets to be Ariel, and even siblings can inhabit the same role. I take special joy in the kids who really become their heroes for the night – the Hulk who growls, “Trick or Treat,” the Superman who flexes before holding out his hand, and the princess who glides up to the door.
Some parents extend this superhero magic into other facets of kids’ lives, say, for example, that Supergirl is super-strong when she eats vegetables, or that Batman needs to go to bed because he needs to be well-rested for when the Bat signal goes up in the sky. I’m all for the “whatever works” approach to these daily challenges, especially when a child identifies strongly with a character. Parents and kids alike can have fun coming up with the reasons why Princess Shuri absolutely needs to clean behind her ears, or Iron Man requires well-brushed teeth.
The PBS KIDS show, “Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum” introduces kids to another kind of hero, real individuals who have helped change the course of human history. Based upon the “I Am…” series of kid-friendly biographies by Brad Meltzer, the show informs kids of extraordinary humans and uses their stories to show kids that they too can be extraordinary in the here and now. By extension, kids can also think about the everyday heroes in their lives. Who is super helpful? Who can make super dinners? Who is a super hugger? (Kudos to you if you are all three.)
The next time your child is doing something completely awesome, take out your phone and snap a photo of her in the act. Then, using the drawing feature on your phone, add a mask and cape, and show your child that she has super abilities all the time. Afterward, take a selfie and have your child make you into the superhero that you both know you are.
Benjamin Kramer, PhD, is the director of education for Austin PBS.