Welcome to “Great Moments in Parenting”, a new series where fathers explain a parenting hurdle they faced and the unique way they overcame it. Here, Kevin, 44, a father from New York, explains how he was able to bond with his son over a bedtime reading of SpiderMan
When my wife was expecting our youngest son, she developed high blood pressure and was forced into bedrest for the duration of her pregnancy. This made life much busier —I had a full-time job, and we already had a 2-year-old at home. I had to step in and account for a lot of the simple, daily routine. There was so much juggling of schedules that it became easy for our other son to get lost in the shuffle. Obviously, it wasn’t intentional, it was just the result of so much going on.
But we always had bedtime.
Bedtime was our time together, and a time when we were began to develop a very special bond over comic books. I always read to my son before he goes to sleep. One night, having exhausted our supply of Eric Carle and Margaret Wise Brown books, I reached for something different, a Marvel Masterworks collection that compiled the best of Steve Ditko’s run on the Amazing Spider-Man. It was a bold move, considering some of the adult action and dialogue here and there. But, I was able to skip over some of Stan Lee’s prose (for shame, I know), and simply narrate what was happening in each panel. I made the world come alive for him.
With every flip of the page, you could see the amazement in my son’s eyes. The colors. The motion. The struggle of good versus evil. They all resonated with him on such a basic, visceral level. I would point to pictures of the Webslinger leaping over giant cityscapes and ask him “Who’s that?” If I concentrate real hard, I can still hear his voice, in awe, saying, “Spider-Man.”
It was the first time that I shared something with my little boy that I, too, was extremely passionate about. And it’s been our “thing” ever since.
Since, we’ve seen every one of the movies on their opening weekends and will spend hours – sometimes days – dissecting and discussing the plots, the characters and what’s bound to happen next. We huddle around the computer or our phones whenever a new trailer is released, and he’s even delved into some of my old collection.
Taking that time to read to my son reminded me how important it was to stop amidst the madness of a trying and stressful pregnancy and take time just for him. I had to remind him that he was still just as important to mom and dad as he ever was, even with a new baby on the way. Even with my other son, I make sure that there’s always some time in our crazy lives that belongs just to us. His thing is football, and he’s just as passionate about that as our other son is about the Avengers. Whatever works.