A Magazine about the Hudson Valley’s local economy, published by Hudson Valley Current.

Daddy Debrief: Superhero Sessions

by David DeWitt   
In the midst of a marathon Batman/Spiderman play session Finn suddenly realized that he wasn’t wearing any pants. 
“Batman!!! Where are my red pants?!“ he yelled. I couldn’t help but for a moment imagine that line being in one of the Batman or Spiderman movies, and what might have led up to it.
“I don’t know, Spiderman!” I replied. “I think they’re in the laundry! Have you thought of using your red shorts?”
“Yes, yes I’ll use those!” he said “Thank you Batman!”
Finn is constantly breaking new ground in the superhero world. He can be fighting crime one moment and completely domestic the next. We have been hiking, had lunch, tea time, and even been grocery shopping all while in character. He changes “costumes” about five times a day. And when he’s in character, it has to be his decision when to break it. We have had melt downs in the supermarket because we spoke to him as Finn and not the character he was playing.
He’s not always a superhero. He enjoys being knights, monsters, aliens with fifteen syllable names, construction workers, and of course firemen.
The most entertaining part is the costume assembly. He pulls bits and pieces from his own closet and ours, and not always what you would expect for the character’s clothing. 
Sir Finn the Gallant Knight, in his favorite homemade costume.
Photo by David DeWitt.
He’s fond of a particular grey sweater of Erin’s when he’s playing a knight because it looks like the protective chain mail he has seen in medieval illustrations. His Daniel Tiger costume is a red sweater vest and then he wears nothing from the waist down because “Daniel doesn’t wear any pants.”
When we’re playing together I try to be completely committed to my roles. If my acting is too good he’ll stop and say, “You’re just kidding right?” Or if I seem just a little too frightened of his monster, he’ll take off his mask and say “It’s ok Daddoo. Look, it’s just me. Finn!”
Several times a day he plays on his own and he’s usually “‘in it to win it.” I watch him and remember vividly what it was like to be lost in play, what a gift that is, and how hard it is to do that as an adult. I do get lost in my art often, but rarely with a sense of abandon. 
I finally understand those moments as a kid when I would catch my mom just staring at me. Thinking she was trying to catch me at something, but then she would just smile. I know that my gift is getting lost in observing him. 
Soon enough he wants to pick up where we left off. “Oh. Hi Batman,” he says, “Do you want to play with me?” “I would love to,” I say. “Ok,” he says, “but first I have to go to the potty. Can you come wipe my bottom when I’m done?” “Of course I can Spiderman!” I say enthusiastically. “No Daddoo,” he says, “It’s just me. Finn.” Of course it is. Silly Batman.

David DeWitt is a painter, writer, and dad. He lives in Ulster County with his wife Erin and three year old son, Finn. To read David’s blog on art and fatherhood, visit www.daviddewitt.com.