In a recent post for Lifetime Moms, I mentioned that the issue of my son having “bad influences” – i.e., influences that aren’t his parents – wasn’t one I was expecting to encounter for a while. I expected him to be primarily under the influence of me for the next few years.
And then he met Xander.
And Xander ruined my son’s childhood.
A few weeks ago, Detective Munch was playing with some of his Star Wars figures, and things got a little awkward. (And no, it had nothing to do with Luke and Leia. Or R2 and Threepio. Or Han and Chewbacca. Or Jabba and Leia. Or any Ewoks. You pervert.)
Suddenly, in the midst of playing pretend, he looks up at me and says, “Do ya know…” (“Do ya know?” is his go-to conversation starter. He likes to keep people informed; never mind the fact that what follows is typically nonsense.) “Do ya know? Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father!”
Sorry to hop franchises here, but I fucking HULKED OUT.
It’s difficult to keep a 35-year-old plot twist a secret – especially when the Star Wars universe has expanded into prequels and cartoons and onto clothing and bags and is everywhere all the time! – but I’m trying. Detective Munch hadn’t seen frame one of a single Star Wars movie or cartoon at this point (I finally showed him the first movie last weekend), but somehow someone a four-year-old – who probably hasn’t seen the movies himself – spoiled them for him.
You don’t really expect strange four-year-olds to cause problems in your life. Your own four-year-old, definitely, but other people’s? That’s their cross to bear. And yet here comes Xander, getting all up in my business. In more ways than one.
His lack of spoiler alerts aside, we learned from my son’s teacher – in the midst of a particularly intense spurt of obnoxious behavior (that has since mostly subsided) – that Xander had recently been seated near Detective Munch. Suddenly it seemed to be no coincidence that his vocabulary began featuring new potty-based words, and his behavior began featuring a lot more hitting and talking back.
(Disclaimer: Xander isn’t an actual kid. He’s a fictional composite of a handful of my son’s friends and classmates, none of whom actually had parents who loved “Buffy”/hated their son enough to name him Xander. Not even I would do that, and I love “Buffy” and hate my son!)
Kids will be kids; they have a long way to go before their behavior becomes solidified enough that it causes long-term problems. Besides, they’re learning any bad behavior elsewhere, and it’s nothing too crazy to begin with; they’re simply trying stuff out, like all kids. So I’m loathe to blame Xander and friends for anything. Like my son, they’re not even five!
And yet, he’s not even five and outside influences are already becoming a problem for me. My brother is trying to make him a Yankees fan. He asks Mom and Buried to put on her Pandora “show-tunes” channel. Netflix has him preferring the Avengers to Superman, and yesterday he told me was never going to like beer! Am I losing control of my boy already?
Not if I can help it. I can’t force him to follow in my footsteps, but I can do my best to delay the inevitable stray.
So watch out, Xander. You’re not only messing with my son’s enjoyment of one of the biggest plot twists – and beloved franchises – in film history, you’re endangering my role as his primary bad influence.
If anyone is going to be ruining my kid’s childhood, it’s me.