I was in the mall last week to watch my pre school kid's class stage a teacher's day show. For some reason, my little girl was left out of the program along with a couple of other seemingly irreverent classmates. She sat ogling the stage with envy and I thought, "Okay. I'll teach her to aggressively seek inclusion next time."
Then I saw the whole show. The core part of it featured kids in superhero costumes sashaying down the ramp like models. Two kids wearing the colored underwear that constitute female hero costumes were among them and I remember turning to my husband saying, "No, no, never will she ever set foot on that stage ever."
I wouldn't consider myself a rigid conservative (and there is nothing wrong with super hero costumes). I probably won't wrap my daughter up in ankle length tablecloth when she becomes a teen or tape an alarm clock around her neck so she'll know exactly when I want her to be home. It's something else. Probably my sense of purpose.
For the first time, I came to appreciate how the nuns in my old school "raised" us. We had to go to school in a rigid color scheme uniform from head to foot. Any article of clothing or fashion that was in excess of what was prescribed earned us tickets to the amazingly frightening office of the guardian of morality.
On special days when there were school shows or presentations, when we were permitted to sport clothing outside of our dull, blue world, sleeveless shirts, short skirts and colored nails were still banned and costumes for shows had to cost less than a burger's price tag or cost nothing at all. The shows themselves had to be so visually minimalistic that watching them felt like watching a fish in a round fishbowl that didn't even have the courtesy of sand to adorn it.
We thought the nuns had a pretty devious recruitment process in place and we rebelled on the weekends with ostentatious displays of bad clothing. Apparently though, the nuns had more in mind than trying to recruit us to wear penguin suits. Now I see that part of what they wanted to teach us was to have a sense of purpose.
They may have been too extreme but their methods drove home a point. Most of what you do must be relevant and must have a pretty damn good reason behind it that adds value to your life or someone else's. Stripping the frivolity that surrounds you is part of finding out if who you are and what you're doing can stand solid enough to justify itself.
Going back to the Batcave and my girl's super hero friends... Where was the purpose in all that? What was that for? Other than having put those kids up on stage so we could all appreciate their cuteness, there was nothing minimally relevant about it. To me, that day probably marked the birth of a handful of minds on shallow waters.
*Image by Crystaljingsr