We were having a conversation about Halloween, Anders’ favorite holiday. I suspect he loves it so much because it is the one day of the year when everyone else around him dresses the way he likes to dress on a regular basis — in costume. Anders begins planning his next Halloween on November 1st, despite the fact that, in his case, it requires very little planning at all. He has been Batman for four of the last five Halloweens.
Recently, his ‘favorite’ has changed, a fact that caught me by surprise when he made his firm declaration from the backseat. “I want to be a penguin for Halloween this year or a cat. Not Batman, okay?”
Anders’ obsession with the Caped Crusader began at two years old when for Christmas his dad gave him a Batcave playset, a gift I was certain he was too young to enjoy. For three years now, that Batcave has been his favorite toy to play with. We’ve spent hours together setting up action figures and acting out scenes from Batman cartoons.
Lately, his pretend play has centered more around animals and his mountain of super hero gear has been gathering dust. So his admission served to confirm what I should have already gathered from his actions.
I have written countless stories about my son and his love for super heroes. It is a world of make-believe he has been immersed in for most of his life. While most children fall in and out of phases — Sesame Street, Thomas the Train, dinosaurs — Anders’ obsession has been steadfast.
He introduced himself to his teacher on the first day of preschool as “Anders Batman” and he has spent more days with a cape draped about his shoulders than without. I’ve become accustomed to the smiles of strangers as I pushed a masked little boy around the store aisles in my grocery cart.
Those days are now at a close and, while I can’t say I’ll miss watching and re-watching those same tired cartoons, it is a stage I’m very sad to see go.