I worry about my son.
He turns three next week and he has yet to show a strong interest in Spider-Man. Not even the life-sized Spider-Man statue I have in my Arcave interests him (“Arcave” is a word my kids coined. They put Arcade and “Man-cave” together to come up with Arcave).
If it has wheels, such as Thomas the Train or Lightning McQueen, he’s all in. He routinely crushes my dreams when we are shopping for lunchboxes or pajamas because he never chooses Spidey items.
Full disclosure: I like a lot of superheroes, but Spidey has always been my guy. I have a sleeve of Spider-Man tattoos on my right arm. Spidey is in the middle, his head about the size of a deck of cards. Around him are some of my favorite villains: The Hobgoblin, Doctor Octopus, Venom, The Chameleon, The Green Goblin, Electro, J. Jonah Jameson, Doctor Doom and The Rhino.
I’ve followed the character since I was my son’s age, routinely asking weary festival face painters to paint my face “just like Spider-Man!” No one ever wonders what to get me for my birthday. When I turn 40 in November, we’ll do shots of Wild Turkey out of Spider-Man shot glasses.
So, I always dreamed about sharing this passion with my kids. Allow me to be even more frank: I assumed it would be with my son. So far, it is not. My daughter, almost five, digs superheroes a lot. She likes Spidey, The Hulk and Superman. In fact, it was through her eyes that I came to discover what’s truly cool about Superman.
But the boy isn’t into it yet. My head tells me that’s OK (and it is), but my heart breaks a little. One day he may come around and want to read Spidey comics with his Old Man. Perhaps he and I will go to yard sales together looking for Spidey treasures among the random junk on display. And maybe, just maybe, he’ll ask for a Spider-man cake for his birthday one year. But this year, it’s Thomas and Lightning McQueen on the same cake. (My wife is going to make it from scratch. God bless her.)
When I amassed a large comic book collection people started asking me if I’d ever sell it. This was long before I was married. I would immediately say “No, I’ll give them to my children one day.” That is still true today. Hopefully, my son and daughter will see these well-preserved wall crawler tales for what they are: their birthright. If they don’t, perhaps their kids eventually will.
Either way, I love my boy for having the purity of soul to not conform to the pressure of a 6-foot Spider-man statue owned by a crazy old man who is covered in Spidey tattoos.
I guess I’m not worried about him after all.