Why I hope there will be more cartoon characters like Hiccup

My sons are small and skinny. They are nothing like the heavily muscled superheroes they admire.

That’s just one reason we love How to Train Your Dragon: because while we’re used to hearing about girls’ toys being relentlessly slimmed-down, sexed-up, and princess-ified, we tend to talk less about the vision of ‘masculinity’ presented for our boys’ consumption.

Hiccup & Toothless in flight. Photo courtesy Brett Jordan via Flickr Creative Commons. - See more at: http://rachelmariestone.religionnews.com/2014/02/28/boys-need-better-cartoon-role-models/#sthash.lqYv4kgP.dpuf
Hiccup & Toothless in flight. Photo courtesy Brett Jordan via Flickr Creative Commons.

Hiccup is skinny and small and brilliant. He breaks the rules and breaks new ground. He is an inventor and a creator. He is a peacemaker.

And the meta-message of Hiccup that my boys take away is something like:
It’s okay to be different. In fact, it’s more than okay. It’s great. And it’s best of all to be who you are.
And I love that.

A Monster That Has Eaten A Person

As I type this, my two rambunctious boys are running around, screaming, playing, fighting…

{real time quote}

“I’m the sheriff…I mean, I’m the judge…I mean..”

It’s been a rainy day, and while it’s been mostly a peaceful one, sometimes the running in the house and the toilet jokes and the general little-boy-ness of it all just gets to me and my mind runs involuntarily to images of my American Girl doll packed lovingly away, waiting for my daughter to play quietly and respectfully with it.

{And then, you know, my grad-school self rebukes me for such shamelessly gender-biased assumptions and then I tell my grad-school self to be quiet, because I BOUGHT MY BOYS DOLLS and ENCOURAGED them to do quiet and nurturing things–or at least wholesome and non-violent things–but they think dolls are fun for arresting and that the doll crib is a prison. So THERE!)

Meanwhile, the running, screaming, and weaponizing of everything continues apace, and I get tired of it all. I’m grateful that they are fed and happy and healthy, that I have the resources to provide for them, but couldn’t they flourish a little more quietly?

And then one of them creates something so essentially little boy, something that could’ve easily been sketched by Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes (“it’s a monster that has eaten a person”–eaten with JOY, I daresay)–and I wouldn’t trade their noisy-boy-ness for any number of dolly tea-parties.

(Though, at this moment, an afternoon in a tea shop with one of my nieces sounds a little bit like heaven.)