Tales of a Superhero Princess

2 May

My preschooler, Molly, has recently become obsessed with superheroes. Well, maybe the more accurate assessment of the situation is that I have become obsessed with her interest in superheroes. It all began before her little friend Jackson’s birthday party. He had sent out Spiderman invitations, and to a 4-year-old, no further explanation needed – he was having a Spiderman party! Now as a side note (and a topic I’d like to explore further at a different time), Molly is quite taken with Jackson. He is a super cute, fun, happy kid. He’s the kind of kid that others are really drawn to. So it goes without saying that when the arrival of the invitation coincided with Molly’s discovery of a Spiderman t-shirt of her very own , it was on!

That t-shirt was like a ticket into an exclusive preschool playgroup. She couldn’t believe her luck, stumbling upon this garment in the deep hallows of her dresser drawer. Was it really hers? Where did it come from? The truth is I had forgotten she had it. I must have bought it for her the year before (judging from the size), and I’m not entirely sure of my motivation. It was a pretty cute little pink tee with ruffled sleeves and an iron-on Spiderman swinging from a web. I probably enjoyed the challenge to gender stereotypes it represented, but looking at it now, what I love most about it is the way it integrates Molly’s interests – being fancy and being a superhero!

Well, none of that really mattered as long as she could wear that Spiderman shirt to Jackson’s birthday party. And wear it she did! I watched her seek out her superhero loving friends to show them she was sporting a superhero shirt too. It will come as no surprise that these buddies were, in fact, all boys, and I was thrilled to see her mixing it up with the kids from her class.

It has recently become very apparent to me that the boys and girls in Molly’s class who used to integrate so nicely together are spending more and more time in single gender peer groups.  One of the things I find most troubling about this is that by spending so much time with same-sex friends, kids are really missing out on a lot of opportunities to learn from one another. I am not alone in taking note of this. Gender Segregation is a phenomenon that is well documented and researched. It has even been said that in many ways, boys and girls grow-up in two separate worlds. So here we have our little ones honing social, communication and relationship skills in isolation of one another.

With all of this in mind, I have been on a mission lately to get my daughter to play with lots of different kids. By “lots of different kids,” I’m really referring to my desire to have her include more boys in her social circle. But in spite of our “discussions” at home – I’m sure you can imagine the deep reflections that resulted from these – Molly still preferred to play with 3 or 4 girls that have become good friends. But now, here was my chance to really make it happen! My plan was to arm my daughter with the tools to successfully navigate her way between both female and male peer groups. And by tools I mean a Spiderman t-shirt. I marveled in the potential that a frilly superhero shirt had for bringing my daughter’s interests together, and in turn, for bringing kids together. This shirt made me realize that  boys and girls can and should come together without anyone sacrificing their own interests. My goal was to provide Molly opportunities to grow, learn and develop by exposing her to more playmates, play interests, communication styles and relationship experiences. Perhaps all of this was a bit lofty for a t-shirt, but it’s a start, right?


7 Responses to “Tales of a Superhero Princess”

  1. SB May 7, 2011 at 4:50 am #

    Loved this- as a mother of two daughters I could totally relate. When my second grader asked me for a “Bay Blade” this holiday season, I found it in the BOYS section at Toys R Us. After asking her more about it having never heard of these, she promptly told me she plays with some boys at school recess and wanted one of her own. I was secretly thrilled that she was not turning out to be the kind of girl that flirts with boys at recess but the kind of girl who is right there in the mix with them. What better way for her to build her self-confidence and expand her circle of friends? Thanks so much for writing this- I loved it!

  2. RR May 7, 2011 at 8:15 am #

    Loved the blog today.
    Could not agree more with your comments. Despite the fact that my daughter has two brothers she still only plays with girls and is very conscious of girl vs. boy things to play with .
    Can’t wait to read the next posting.

  3. Jolene Stockman June 1, 2011 at 1:31 am #

    This is SO COOL! “Being fancy and being a superhero”? Love it! I’m a new subscriber – and I’m excited for more 🙂

    • superheroprincess June 1, 2011 at 10:28 am #

      Thank you for subscribing! I look forward to hearing from you 🙂

  4. Peeps Eyewear (@peepseyewear) May 14, 2012 at 6:51 pm #

    Found your post about PLAY, then this! Love both! I wrote an age appropriate story for my super hero princess who wears glasses. Thanks for encouraging girls are super heroes, too!

  5. Heather May 18, 2012 at 9:31 am #

    hi i was wondering where u got a girl spiderman shirt? ive been looking for one everywhere and cant find one =(

    • Hillary Manaster May 18, 2012 at 12:23 pm #

      I got it at Old Navy a couple of years ago. There’s a place I know in Highland Park, IL that can put any superhero on any color t-shirt you want. http://www.hptops.com or 847-433-0540 Hope that helps! 🙂

      Sent from my iPhone

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