Batman Got Fresh With My Daughter

 

 

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I was at the mall play area with my five-year-old, Norah,
when Batman showed up.
The play area was made of soft foam animals accompanied by a
massive foam tree that had a slide coming out of it. All of it was a mix of
earth colors and neon. There was a red wall around the play area with a soft
bench attached.
My wife was shopping for school shoes with Tristan, our
oldest, and Aspen, our new baby, so I was sitting and watching Norah play. She
was standing on a big rubber butterfly, taking a trip to “Princess Island” when
Batman entered.
It wasn’t the real Batman, naturally, just a kid dressed
like Batman. He must have been five or six. The costume was obviously for an
older child, because the sleeves and legs had been crudely cut to fit his arms
and legs, but he didn’t seem to mind. Batman walked with a confident strut as
he entered the play area. But hey, why not… he was Batman. I’ve seen the meme,
“Always be yourself. Unless you can be Batman. Always be Batman.”
Norah and Batman were the only two kids in the play area at
the time. Batman approached Norah. She was sitting on a foam butterfly, riding
it like a horse. first and told her he was looking for bad guys behind that
tree.
“I’m going to get those bad guys and tie them up, and beat
them!”
Batman spoke in a husky Batman voice, and his hands moved
violently. His jaw was tense, and a stream of saliva followed many of his words.
He was a little stick of testosterone.
Norah was a little shocked by his intensity. And I was, too.
My first thought was, “This kid is crazy.”
I looked in Norah’s eyes, and assumed that she felt the same
way. I assumed that I’d raised her to be able to tell when it was best to just
walk away from someone. But instead, she looked at Batman with dreamy eyes and
told him that she was on her way to “Princess Island.”
Batman asked if that’s where the bad guys were.
“Yes,” Norah said. “That’s where they are. Get on my
butterfly.”
I put my head in my hands and thought, I never want Norah to
ask another boy to “get on her butterfly” ever again.
Suddenly they were both sitting together, Batman in front,
and Norah behind him, her arms wrapped around his waist, legs straddling his
hips. It looked like they were on a motorcycle, or something, and all I could
think was, Norah, you could do better. 
As a father, I try not to think about boys being attracted
to my daughter. I also try not to think about my daughter being attracted to
boys, yet Norah likes to tell me about all her “boy friends” regularly, and
it’s difficult for me to not want to commit murder. She is in such a rush to
meet that prince charming, fall in love, and get married, while I would rather
lock her in a tower for the next 30 years or so until until I can find her the
“right man” and make sure she is mature enough to have a successful marriage. A
lot of this comes down to the fact that I’ve known a few douche bags. During my
teen years, I was one. I’ve seen a few divorces. I’ve seen what happens when
teens get pregnant, and I know that until I was nearly 30, sex was my number
one priority. This didn’t always help me to make the best decisions.
Long story short, when it comes to my daughter, I often feel
scared. I often feel like she needs the most guidance, because there is so much
peril out there. So many immature dreamy guys ready to say what she wants to
hear. All of this is more of a reflection on me than it is society and Norah,
but never the less, it has made me protective.
Norah and Batman ran through the tree together. Their game
was a mixed up hunt for bad guys and princes, each one taking turns leading the
way. Every once in a while, Batman would start beating the crap out of a foam
frog or turtle, saying that it was a bad guy, and Norah would stand back and
watch him, her eyes filled with longing, as though he were fighting for her
love.
As I watched, I thought about taking Norah out. I thought
about taking her somewhere else. I thought getting her away from Batman. But I
didn’t know what that said about me as a father. I knew that what they were
doing was harmless, and yet all of it made me uncomfortable.
This kid was living a lie. He was trying to be something he
wasn’t, a great superhero, and Norah was falling for it. I wanted to take her
aside and teach her about players and manipulators, and how important it is to
realize that the real Batman is a boy with good morals and goals. The kind of
boy who will treat her with love and compassion, and not just some assclown in
a costume that rides a nice butterfly.
At one point, Norah and Batman were sitting next to each
other at the top of the tree slide. They were taking a break from their game,
when Batman reached out and held Norah’s hand. I freaked out a little, stood to
put an end to it, but stopped when Norah punched Batman in the face. Then she
went down the slide, walked across the play area, and onto the butterfly.
She was flying home.
Batman started crying. He ran to his father, who’d been
playing with his smartphone and missed the whole thing.
Norah looked at me, and smiled, and suddenly, I felt better
about Norah’s ability to spot the real Batman.  

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Clint Edwards was blessed with a
charming and spitfire wife, a video game obsessed little boy, a snarky
little girl in a Cinderella play dress, and an angry baby girl. When Clint was 9-years-old his father
left. With no example of fatherhood, he had to learn how to be a father and
husband through trial and error. His work has been featured in Good
Morning America
, The New York Times,
The
Washington Post
, The
Huffington Post
, Scary
Mommy
, The Good
Men Project
, Fast
Company
, and elsewhere. He lives in Oregon. Follow him on Facebook and
Twitter.  
Photo by Lucinda Higley
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