Return of the Good Guy
Henry informed me, as we walked home from his nursery school, that he was now a bad guy.
I wondered what he could have done to turn so quickly over to the dark side. Did he crush the class guinea pig with his bare hands? Throw another child’s lunch out the window? Pee in the play dough?
“But I am a bad guy,” Henry told me. “All my friends said so. They said, ‘You can’t play with us, because you’re a bad guy.’” His lower lip went all rubbery and his eyes filled with tears. I marched back into the school and punched every preschooler I could find.
Ha, ha! As we know, punching preschoolers is generally frowned upon. So I hugged my child, gave him some lame advice like “Don’t play with those mean kids” and “You should just tell them you’re not a bad guy” and I hoped it would all blow over.
Only it didn’t. Over the next few weeks, the other (evil) children kept up the “You’re a bad guy” routine, and it was beginning to have an effect on my boy. Maybe I am bad, I could hear him thinking. Bad to the bone. He knocked over his action figures and laughed, coldly. When I leaned in for a kiss he pressed his lips together and turned his head. Bad guys don’t kiss. “Do bad guys care about their dogs?” Henry asked me once, eyeing our dog Charlie as he waved a Nerf bat around. Something had to be done. Soon he would start smoking.
Then, before I could put him into therapy, the Grand Cape arrived. Constructed of a space–age glittery material and featuring a triumphant gold star smack dab in the center, I had chosen to review it because I knew it would appeal to Henry’s superhero aspirations. It wasn’t until it arrived that I knew what it was really for.
Henry’s eyes widened when I showed him his new cape. “Put it on me put it on me put it on me!” he shouted, dancing around the box. When I finally got him still enough to tie it on, he stood, arms akimbo, and regarded himself in the mirror.
“Do you know who that is?” I asked him.
He rolled his eyes at me. “I’m Henry,” he sighed.
“Not just Henry,” I said. “You’re Henry the Good Guy,” I said.
He squinted at me. “How do you know?”
“Because. That’s a Good Guy cape.”
He beamed at his reflection. For the rest of the afternoon, he zoomed about the house, performing his various good–guy duties. He saved action figures from certain doom and grabbed block buildings in mid–topple. He gazed benevolently at the dog before kissing him on top of the head.
From that day onward, there was no more talk of him being a bad guy. And—for a little while, at least—I felt like a genius.
You can learn more about the Grand Cape at www.sparkability.net.
You can read more by Alice Bradley at her weblog Finslippy.