As far as I can remember, it started with a cup. My daughter used small juice glasses during our family meals, but as she was still under three, I was hesitant to have her use actual glassware on the nights we ate dinner outside on our back patio. Spilling the glass was still a real hazard, and having it break on the cement would be less than ideal. The patio was a prime barefoot zone, plus I could no longer find the small glasses in any store, making replacing them more than difficult.
Fortunately, Target’s summer seasonal section was well stocked, and among the kitschy themed ice-cube molds and outdoor utensil trays, I was able to find the perfect cups. The size was good (a little large for my daughter’s hands, but not impossible to manage), and they had a double wall with a snow-globe type effect, where shaking the glass would send glitter and various shapes careening around the outside. Of the two I picked up, one had Batman and one had Wonder Woman. I knew Batman would be a hit—she liked Batman because she knew her uncle liked Batman—but Wonder Woman was an unknown quantity.
More than three years later, I’m not really sure where the Batman glass has landed in our house, but my kiddo still shows excitement whenever the Wonder Woman one gets pulled out of the cupboard.
Somewhere along the way, Wonder Woman went from being a character on a glass to my daughter’s favorite superhero. My cynical side says that this is probably because she’s often the only visible female superhero in wide pop-culture consciousness, but my idealistic side likes to think that she legitimately felt a connection to the character. While the cynical side may have a point, I want to believe the idealistic side is more correct. Once my geekling discovered video games, she requested we get the Wonder Woman minifig for Lego Dimensions, and since then she has spent hours happily flying around the open worlds as her favorite superhero.
So, once my daughter found out that there was going to be a Wonder Woman movie, she naturally wanted to see it. My husband and I debated a bit over whether it was a good idea or not, but we did end taking her. I’m glad we did.
Nearing the end of Wonder Woman is the scene, where Wonder Woman climbs out of the World War I trench and into “no man’s land,” and my daughter’s reaction to that moment made moot any debate over her readiness for the movie. As Diana made her first step onto the scarred battlefield, I heard her gasp. Fearing that we’d made a grave parental error and she was about to burst out crying, I looked over at her, but my worries quickly dissipated. Instead of tears, my daughter’s face showed epiphany, inspiration, and (natch) wonder. She was watching her favorite character muster belief in her own abilities so that she could do the task that needed doing. She was having a loss of innocence, but in a good way—a way that showed sometimes ferocity and boldness are what’s needed to show mercy to others.
About a week later, we were doing our weekly Target run and stopped before the end (as we so often do) to peruse the toy section. While we were winding our way up and down the aisles, my kidlet’s eye caught the section of Wonder Woman toys. Her eyes grew wide. “It’s Wonder Woman’s sword!” she said in a voice more reverent and full of awe than I had ever heard from her before.
I realized what the sword meant to her. It wasn’t just the thing Wonder Woman used to defeat the bad guys—it was a symbol of the power and ability to help those beyond yourself, and it was a reminder that she, too, could be fierce. “Would you like to get the sword?” I asked. My daughter nodded, beyond words. We finished our shopping and headed home. I don’t think the sword left her hand for the next six hours (aside from when she sheathed it down the back of her shirt).
True, the sword may get cast aside as other interests come and go. Wonder Woman may not be her favorite superhero forever. However, if every time she sees it my child remembers that she can be courageous, she can be powerful, and she can make a difference, then I consider that sword to be more than just a surprise treat. It becomes an investment in her future.