THE HIDDEN BENEFITS
Real heroes don’t get superpowers from a spider bite. Gamma rays don’t turn scientists into jolly green giants. And super-men don’t crash-land on our planet. It just doesn’t happen in real life. Real superheroes have to train every day, in order to hone their skills.
That’s just another reason why Batman has always been my favorite hero. Super-heroism didn’t happen to him, he chose to rise up to it. From Batman we learn; resilience, in order to overcome those unexpected bumps in the road; adapt quickly to unpredictable situations, and to see failure as a challenge to overcome instead of a life defining moment. But he knows his job isn’t done there. He passes that knowledge on to his sidekicks, the Robins. That is why Boy Wonder’s training started early here in the Dad-cave with a little good old fashioned rough housing.
For those skeptics reading this, IncrediMom is more cautious than I am. She argues that Boy Wonder is wild enough on his own and needs little encouragement from us. “Don’t rile him up! He’s going to try that at daycare and hurt someone.” It’s an extreme scenario, yes, but she likes to remind me that we are raising a superhero not a super-villain.
If you need some more convincing, pick up a copy of “The Art of Roughhousing” by Anthony DeBenedet and Larry Cohen. It’s worth a read because of the research backing up their theory. According to the authors, roughhousing is actually good for our little sidekicks. They go on to say that it helps kids grow up to be intelligent, empathetic, charismatic, ethical, athletic, and all around awesome adults. Basically they’re claiming that roughhousing will turn my boy into Bruce Wayne. That’s great news because, I could use a new mansion, a batmobile, and a butler couldn’t hurt…
ETHICS AND EMPATHY
Boy Wonder is constantly impressed with displays of my super-strength. “Daddy strong!” “Daddy fix it.” “Help I’m stuck!” And I always swoop in to save the day. They don’t call me The IncrediDad for nothing. Of course when we wrestle and play, I’m holding back but he’s starting to catch on. Just weeks ago, he would have sunk his teeth into my cheek or slapped a little too hard. But now, instead of slapping, pinching or biting for fun, he sizes me up, and acts accordingly.
It’s not a perfected skill yet. He came home from daycare the other day and said “I knock down the babies.” “Babies get ouchy and cry.” Hopefully, next time, he’ll start exercising some of that control before he treats innocent bystanders like human bowling pins.
INTELLIGENCE AND ATHLETICS
Going ten rounds with IncrediDad Ali helps brain growth too. When we step into the ring, we are firing up the abs, the arms, and the neurons in his hippocampus.
During a training session, Boy Wonder has two challenges 1) figure out how he’s going to take me down 2) He has to anticipate my next move. He is looking at my body language and face to get the clues. When all else fails, he dictates my next move. “Daddy sit on floor.” “Daddy no! You lose.”
He’s getting really good at knowing my moves but I like to throw him a curveball. Every once-in-a-while I will call in my O.G. sidekick, who’s unpredictable moves still keep me on my toes. I call in the one and only IncrediMom. Suddenly Boy Wonder has a whole new set of body language and moves to figure out.
Though none of us are ever really finished with our superhero training, we have to know when it’s time to call it quits. NO MEANS NO. When someone says it’s time to stop – STOP. Roughhouse play only works well when there is safety and consent.
Keep up that good work IncrediDads. You’re strengthening your sidekick’s mind, body, and the bond between you both. So the next time your wife gets on your back for riling up the little Boy Wonder, you can say: “We’re in superhero training honey!” How could she argue with raising a well adjusted and healthy adult?