Amid the plethora of interviews and articles created in the past week in an attempt to crowdfund the production costs for my book ‘The Husband Swap‘ in the upcoming Thorntree press literary feast came the usual question from one magazine editor…
‘Why does she feel that polyamory is good for the kids?’
And I could hear the incredulity in that question. How could there be any benefit in having another loving adult added to the parenting mix? Or in the simple logistics that three parental figures make less work? I’m not about to refute the potential impact of my children’s loss and heartache, if my boyfriend-who-is-not-the-father (WINTF) would ever leave, but people do break up, move away and die all the time and you don’t have to be in a relationship for that to happen. And their parents would always be their parents.
What other adults bring to the mix, is as individual as well, individuals. But my boyfriend (WINTF) has brought something amazing and something hugely beneficial. He has brought the Marvel universe to our home (sometimes DC but mainly marvel). He has brought his passion for super-heroes and mega-villains to my children’s lives and with them important lessons.
‘Remember,’ says my boyfriend. ‘With great power comes….’
‘Great responsibility.’ finishes my small blue eyed daughter looking at him adoringly.
Why is this so valuable? Because as all parents of small children know, there are endless battles between siblings for superiority. Attention, the best toy, and the finest praise. Treating them equally is inadequate in their eyes. It’s a matter of survival and a constant struggle for one-upmanship.
So my beloved daughter found herself usurped in my attentions at the age of two when her brother came along. Try as I might, I was simply not as available to her. And so she discovered a secret weapon… she had power, and she was willing to use it. Power that she used to pull his hair for some attention. Power that she used to snatch his toys and say
‘They’re mine and you can’t have them.’
Truth to be told, they were hers first, but no longer. She’s outgrown her building blocks, but she still wants them. Because she feels each loss keenly. I was at my wits end. I knew she wanted attention, but short of splitting myself in two, it simply could not be done. But one day, my new boyfriend arrived with his huge descriptive powers and grand imagination. He spoke of a man who could climb walls and spin webs. Of a woman who used her bracelets to fend off bullets and who ran like the wind in a dazzling blue and red costume. Of a genius in an iron suit who flew up to the sky where it was icy cold, to defeat an opponent who was greedy for power, but didn’t know how to use it responsibly. He spoke of people with power who were liked and admired. And they never used it to harm.
There’s some things you show a four year old and some things you do not. Iron man clips are carefully edited for the violent content and usually we say, just after having cut it short… ‘and now he’s gone home for a nice cup of tea.’
But the things you do show a four year old who is desperate for power in her situation… is that power can be a wonderful thing, if used responsibly. That power without responsibility means being a villain. That being a villain is not the means to meet your ends.
The fighting hasn’t stopped of course, but it’s far easier nowadays to help her imagine…what would Wonder Woman do in such a situation? How could you be as great as she is in this moment? Would Wonder Woman really smack her little brother round the head and take the toy she hadn’t played with in over a year? Even a four year old knows the answer to that question. And thanks to my boyfriend’s incredible education – something her parents didn’t bring her – she aspires to being Wonder Woman too much, to keep fighting. At least for about 30 minutes.