Sunday, January 30, 2011

Culturalization of the preschool boy

I've tried hard not to completely shelter my son, but I was a little shocked the other day when I picked him up from preschool and he was chanting "Harry Potter, Harry Potter" over and over like a spell with his friends.  Now I'm a big Harry Potter fan and have no qualms about the books or movies, but I was a little surprised to find that a group of 4-year-olds knew about the wizard.  Although Brady is reading now, I still don't think he's old enough for the stories as he's prone to nightmares and even the two kid-friendly movies he's seen ("Toy Story 3" and "Tangled") have frightened him a little.  When I asked him about it, he, of course, had no clue to who Harry Potter was, and was just following his friends (ah, that boy worries me sometimes).  Then his guy friends started telling me about their favorite video games (Batman and other superheroes) on their Nintendo DS systems, which the rest received as Christmas gifts.  Brady asked me to tell them what game system he got for Christmas, and I told them the Leapster Explorer (he's not even into games enough to know the name of his system).  They were not impressed.  As a group of preschool boys already on the cusp of adolesence, they were not excited in the slightest by a preschool learning toy.

From the beginning, I've tried hard to filter what Brady sees through tv and movies.  I've banned violent toys and encouraged more creative play.  He loves art, music, reading, and drama.  Last year, when a friend his age tackled him to the ground and pinned him in a wrestling hold, Brady thought he was being hugged, and returned the gesture.  He is my sweet, innocent boy, and I love that and want to preserve it, but it is edging away so quickly.  When we went to the store to buy another video game as a treat, he picked "Wolverine and X-Men" by name.  I was a little surprised as his tastes usually run towards the innocuous Disney titles.  When I asked him how he knew about it, he told me that his game system had a commercial about it.  Ahh...the media influence hits early.

While I love his gentle and sensitive side, I wonder if I've done him a disservice.  He will be entering Kindergarten in the fall and is already small for his age.  He's always been a little behind on motor skills and he's not really into sports.  When all of his friends were opening bikes for their 4th birthdays, he was still mastering his tricycle (having just recently grown enough to reach the pedals).  The milestones are getting earlier for kids these days...I don't remember receiving my first bike until I was six. 

I wonder how much I'm influencing him, and is it nurturing his own proclivities or am I shaping him into the boy I want him to be? It's a big question to me as I see he's already being shaped by his friends and the commercials that assail him everyday.

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