I can’t remember how young I was when I learned that there are “bad guys” out there, but it was pretty early. I remember being not older than maybe 5 or so, and my cousin (two years younger than me) and i were at Disney and in line for Splash Mountain and I remember a man, probably a dad, in his thirties or forties, letting my cousin and I go ahead of him (probably because he couldn’t see our family watching and thought we might be alone). And I distinctly remember panicking and telling my cousin that this man was going to steal us away and kill us, so I grabbed my cousin’s hand and dragged him to the front of the line so we could evade danger.
This afternoon, Dax and I were sitting on the floor watching some LEGO Marvel superhero show on Netflix (he really wanted to see Hulk and this was all that was available). He knew who most all the heroes were — Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor, and OF COURSE Hulk — but these good guys were doing battle (in the sky!) with a bunch of enemies I didn’t recognize. But I tried to explain to Dax who they were anyway.
“Those are bad guys,” I said.
“Bad guys,” he repeated.
“Yep, Hulk is fighting the bad guys. Don’t worry. Hulk will win.”
A few minutes later, Dax got up from my lap and went out onto the lanai.
“Bad guys, sky,” he said, pointing to the horizon.
“Oh no, Bubs, there aren’t any bad guys in the sky for REAL. That was just pretend.”
“Bad guys, sky,” he said again.
And then I felt my stomach drop. Because I’d just lied to my son. It wasn’t even half a day ago I was in my car hearing the latest reports of the Islamic State and comments from Pakistani leaders who are disappointed with Malala Yousafzai’s awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize because she is no more than just a “useless girl” and feeling overwhelmed with the number of bad guys in the world.
But there are heroes, too. There are good people, too, and I hope that I am providing enough examples for my son so that when he is old enough to realize the bleak state of the world, he won’t be nearly as cynical as I am.