I was a latecomer to the Marvel Universe. I didn’t read comic books growing up. You might consider me more of a Harriet the Spy/Ramona Quimby kind of kid. Therefore my love of the ragtag band of mutants, the X-men isn’t a relic of a beloved childhood, but a fresh new adoration. My husband introduced me to the X-Men — I can only assume he was thinking “Wouldn’t it be totally badass if my wife would get into this show enough for me to watch it without her nagging me to do something else?” He got more than he bargained for.
I love the X-Men. I think Professor Xavier is brilliant; I feel bad for the Beast who was only a scientific genius trying to feel normal in a world where he was an outcast. I even feel for the plight of their nemesis, Magneto. You’d be mad at humanity too if you had to suffer all the crap that he had to put up with.
And then there’s Rogue. In a world of female characters that are wont only to faint and be rescued, Rogue stands out. Mind you, her outfit is a little tight and she is often drawn with the same unrealistic assets in mind but she’s mouthy and independent, she can steal memories and powers, she has superhuman strength, is resistant to most toxins, and she can fly.
Mutant-approved Lalaloopsy dolls
I understand you may be hesitant to let your child emulate someone whose very name means to be dishonest, mischievous and an all around scoundrel. But for all the trouble she sometimes gets herself into, Rogue also has empathy and growth of character. At the onset she is unable to control her powers. She can’t even touch another person without putting them into a coma (Actually this may be pretty appealing to some dads out there. A 12-year-old that can’t touch all the grimy, dumb teenagers she’s bound to fall for? Perfect!) But Rogue learns, with the help of Professor Xavier, to use her powers when and how she needs to.
Ultimately, letting your child become a real life Rogue is less about keeping her away from prom and more about encouraging her to develop into an independent person who “steals” things from others.
Step 1 – Stealing from Others
Do not teach your kid to swindle people out of their wallets. Do teach your kid to steal ideas. Mentors are great. All kids should have a few lying around even if said mentors aren’t mutants with adamantium skeletons and the ability to change the weather. Teach kids to ask questions and to take what they learn from cool people like a quirky teachers or that uncle who builds rockets in his spare time and use it in their daily lives. I repeat: Steal ideas not iPhones.
Step 2 – Hair Dying Is OK. Dressing up Should Be Encouraged.
Imaginative play is important for developing social, language and critical thinking skills. Pretend play often involves taking turns being the good guy and the villain. It takes creative thinking to build a castle out of couch cushions. This kind of play allows kids to work out real world social skills in the microcosm of an imaginary universe. If I had a nickel for every time I pretended to be a zombie or a monkey at work I would be getting paid a lot more than I actually do.
In order to foster this kind of play, allow dressing up. It doesn’t have to be fancy — even your old clothes can work as superhero capes. Swimming goggles make really great laser shooting eyewear.
You probably don’t want your kid to look like a mutant permanently and this definitely isn’t about encouraging public displays of spandex. I’m just saying an old belt and little temporary hair dye go a long way.
Step 3 – Celebrating What Makes You a Mutant
A major part of Rogue’s story is how much she struggles to accept her mutant powers. Wanting to be like everyone else is a common part of growing up. We all feel like mutants at some point. Emulating an actual mutant may help kids see that differences can be a good thing. Often it’s what’s weird about you that also makes you marvelous.