Action figures have slowly been creeping into our home over the past year. Somehow they just show up. One day all of a sudden there was some large overly muscled masked blue man playing with K’s toy animals. I do not know the character, nor how he got in our home; but my wife believes that he was given to K at a birthday party he crashed for an older boy at our apartment complex. Then there was Ironman. He just rolled in one day looking fresh from a Happy Meal box…but we don’t have a McDonald’s in Burma; and Puss’n’Boots made a similar appearance as well.
Arriving in Sweden we have started to go to a Loppis every other Saturday morning, and we typically give K a few kronor to buy a small toy; and K has been doing a good job at securing a few additional figurines, Violet from the Incredibles, some space guy that he calls Buzz Lightyear, a Nuclear Goofy by Disney, etc. Then we visited Kalmar castle and he walked away from the gift shop with a king figurine, inclusive of sword. And then we just had Christmas where Santa received K’s letter requesting a Spider-Man figurine; but did Santa stop there? Oh no, K also got a Captain America figurine, his brother M got Thor, Daddy got The Incredible Hulk, and Mommy got another Captain America…sorry Wolverine, you are definitely PG-13 and now secretly guarding the liquor cabinet.
Now don’t get me wrong, I look forward to the day when K gets into Marvel superheroes such as the Avengers and X-Men. But K is only 3, and he is still a bit young for this material. My wife and I have been working very hard to instill the values of peace, love, and harmony into K…who seems to have a strong inclination for fighting and violent outbursts. As far as cartoons and movies go, his exposure has been limited to Curious George, a few Arthur episodes, Buzz and Woody from Toy Story, but he did sneak a viewing of The Incredibles while flying to the states from Burma. Add to these action figures K’s inclination for fighting, and things are ripe for a superhero show down; but mommy and I are not going down without a fight either.
So, when K exclaimed excitedly that Thor had a big hammer, mommy replies, “Wow, he must make furniture.” And just like that the god of lightening is now a carpenter. Yesterday K had all his figurines setup with his toy train set that he also got from Santa, to which I explained how each character had a role to play in keeping the trains moving on time. Thor fixes the rails, Captain America uses his shield to prevent the train from derailing, and the Incredible Hulk lifts up the trains and puts them back on the tracks when there is a problem. Later that night, K was having me pick a figurine I wanted then he would pick one, then me, and him again until all were divided. Okay, no worries until K gets a gleam in his eye and exclaims, “Now we fight!” Oh no!! Why don’t we make friends instead?
So while K’s Spider-Man was ready to capture my King with some slick web slinging, I counter with a compliment about the bold blue and red costume that Spider-Man was wearing. Then my Captain American joined in commenting how he was also wearing red and blue and how they should be friends. We then went through all of K’s action figures commenting on their outfits and which costumes were like the others and K paired them off as friends based on what they were wearing. While Thor was also wearing a nice blue and red outfit, he and the king were paired as they both had flowing red capes. The two Captains and Spider-Man were joined as they had sleek blue and red costumes; Ironman and Violet were setup together due to their red/black and red/yellow combinations.
Puss’n’Boots joined the King and Thor due to her nice brown boots…and my favorite Hulk was left out cause he didn’t wear any boots at all.
So here we are with all of these action figures and mommy and I working hard to keep coming up with story lines and situations that will keep K interested in them without incorporating violence, which is a bit challenging with the Hulk who is clearly poised to smash some poor soul into the ground. (No wait, he is really just stretching out his back and giving someone a high five.) Obviously, we are going to lose this battle. (How do you defeat the Avengers?) Part of me thinks it might be a good idea to allow K to fight his characters, perhaps using them to channel his aggression through his toys and not on his brother and friends at school. But how do you separate “play violence” with toys from “play violence” with your three-year-olds actual friends?
And just how long can mommy and I keep K entranced with these action figures when their impressive powers are only used to keep the trains running on time and in designing fashionable clothing? Though so far, K does keep referring to them as his “boot people” and seems very concerned that the Hulk is not wearing any boots…I guess we might win this one yet.