My eldest son has expressed a tendency to side with the bad guys. It started with Darth Vader, which was innocent enough. When you talk about really cool bad guys that you don’t mind your kids liking, Darth Vader has to be at or near the top of that list. I didn’t become concerned until he insisted on preferring Megatron to Optimus Prime, the Joker to Batman and Magneto to Wolverine.
For some time, I thought it was just something he was doing to try and be funny. Once he understood who the good guys and bad guys were on any side of a battle, I thought he would choose the bad guys just to be different. I spun it in my mind into a sort of creative independence on the kid’s part that might end up serving him well later in life.
He disproved this theory as new characters would come out for various shows and toys or when he would become aware of some new trend. If you were to show him all the new characters of any new television show without my eight-year-old knowing anything about it and asked him to pick his favorite, he would inevitably select the villains. Leafing through the Marvel Encyclopedia, he would pick out characters he decided he liked that I had never even heard of. Each one: bad guy.
I was concerned to say the least. Visions of my son in a black cape and stroking some variety of unusual animal on his lap (I’m thinking iguana, ferret or mutated tarantula) while he threatens the citizens of New York after hijacking control of the Times Square Jumbo-tron danced through my head. My imagination led me to see myself, face digitally distorted and voice altered, on a daytime talk show, discussing how I didn’t raise him to be an evil super villain, it just sort of worked out that way. I would then have to issue a statement of apology to the President and the United Nations for the terror my loins unleashed on the world.
So this was my life for a while. I encouraged everything he did as a good father should. I helped him learn his math and watched him become a downright avid reader. Yet all the while, in the back of my mind, I fretted over what sinister ends he might use all this knowledge to achieve.
Then, just the other day, I sat down at the table with a cup of coffee and noticed something.
The previous evening, we had begun building the Lego Kingdoms Princess Tower Rescue set (#7947). While my sons slept, I completed its construction. Don’t worry, I was given express permission to do so this time. I used to just finish builds on my own. When I finished, I placed all the minifigures where they ought to be. The archer atop the tower, a man at the catapult, the white knights storming the gates and, of course, the princess locked in her cell, with her two-sided minifigure face turned to the side that expressed distress.
As I sipped my coffee, however, I noticed something had changed. The princess was no longer in the tower cell. She appeared to be walking away from her one time prison alongside the white knights and her face had even been turned around to side expressing joy. I was relieved and proud at the same time. Perhaps I didn’t have a budding super criminal on my hands after all.
Of course, the princess was then replaced in the tower hold where she has remained since. At least his actions that day showed the potential for some mercy, no matter how momentary it may have been.