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Jess Knows Best! Advice on love, life, and more for the modern geek and geekette!

Jess Knows Best

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Q. Dear Jess,

My 10-year old son, who loves to read comic books, asked me if he could be a superhero when he grows up. Maybe I should have thought about it first, but my reaction was to tell him 'no, superheroes don't really exist.' He seemed very upset afterwards, but I just want him to be realistic. (I'll admit I now feel like I was telling him there's no Santa Claus.) What would you tell your child?

Dashing Dreams

A. I have an 8-year old son, and we’ve discussed this topic many times. While it’s important to preserve the fantasy of superheroes so you nurture their imagination -- there is a balance that must be met to make sure your child understands reality vs. fantasy.

Why is that so important? A couple weeks ago in Seattle, a 10-year old boy died when he and his friends tried to imitate something they’d seen on Naruto. His friends buried him headfirst in a sandbox, and when he started kicking, desperate to be freed, they thought he was playing. (see the story here)

For a time, my son was having some behavioral issues that we noticed were more prominent when he watched Ed, Edd & Eddy. If you’ve watched the show, you know that the characters run around doing all kinds of outrageous things, and never suffer consequences because of it. We figured out quickly that our son was being taught that he could be mouthy and jump all over the furniture without getting in trouble. When we finally sat him down and explained the difference between the realistic elements of the show (they were just kids playing together) vs. the fantasy elements of the show (they were kids playing together – with seemingly no adult presence), he seemed to grasp the idea and his behavior improved. Eventually we let him start watching the show again.

I realize that in your case, the scenario is a little different, but I was trying to illustrate the point you were not out-of-line to say what you did. I would, however, sit your son down and explain that while there is no ‘real’ Superman, firefighters and policemen risk their lives every day to save others, and it’s your actions that define with you’re a superhero or not.

You should also let him know that it’s perfectly acceptable to ‘play’ Superman with his cousin in the back yard and let his imagination run free -- but it’s not okay to ‘play’ Superman with his cousin while jumping off the roof. Isn’t the complexity of children great?! ;) Hope this helped…or at least helped you feel better about your response.

Q. Dear Jess,

My little brother took one of my comics and cut it up with some scissors to make some stupid art project. He didn't even ask if he could have it. Now it's ruined forever! I told my mom that I was really mad, but she just blew me off. What do I do so she'll listen?

Angry at everyone

A. Find one of your books (or go pick one up) that is known for its amazing, breathtaking artwork, and then ask your mom if you could chat with her sometime when she has a few minutes. By taking this approach, you will ensure that you’ve truly got her ear during your conversation, and she’ll know you have something important to say.

Show her the art in the book and explain to her that to you, your comics are individual works of art. While you don’t frame each one -- protecting it with a bag and board is not very different. To you, cutting up a comic book is like someone cutting up a painting hanging on your wall. Let her know that it’s not as much about the money (though the books can be quite expensive); it’s more about the disrespect for something that’s important to you.

You could also take your little brother to the quarter bin at your local comic book store and demonstrate to him the difference between comics you value and seek to collect, and those that you might buy simply to cut up. Buy a handful of $.25 comics for him, and tell him he just needs to ask you the next time he wants to use your stuff. In situations like these, there is usually a common resolution to be found that will make everyone happy.

Q. Dear Jess,

What does it mean when you tell a girl you really like her and she replies 'you're a really good friend?' Does that mean I could be a boy friend, or just a friend? I really, really like her and she knows it.

Crossed Signals

A. If you really like her and she knows it, you’d know if she really likes you. I’m sorry to say that it sounds like you should move on.

This situation reminds me of my friend *Christine back in high school. She always had friends that were boys, and there were a couple that endlessly pined for her attention. She knew they both liked her, but she didn’t feel the same way. They waited in the wings for a couple years -- hoping that one day she would reciprocate their feelings, but it never happened. Instead, those boys spent their time and emotion with blinders on, not bothering look around them for other potential love interests.

If you and this girl can remain good friends, do…but don’t hang onto any illusion that you can change her feelings for you. It’s not healthy or fair to yourself, and you’ll just get hurt in the end. It would be easier to “man-up” now and move on.

*Not her real name, blah blah blah.

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