It started with an email on our local parent listserv. A mom was vexed because a boy at preschool told her daughter she couldn’t be Spider-Man. Other parents quickly chimed in that their girls were experiencing similar problems with their love of Batman and other superheroes, who, let’s face it, are mostly dudes.
The conversation grew to ideas about playdates, getting these like-minded kids together. Then so many people chimed it that it turned into an idea for the Uptown Superheroes March, a cute little 4-block parade. Boys could come, too, in solidarity of the super girls.
Interestingly, when the story hit our local news, the comments were mostly negative, basically equating this parade to participation trophies. People seemed outraged, distilling the idea down to a parade thrown by affluent helicopter parents to make one little girl feel better when she should really just suck it up. Because life is pain, I guess?
The reality was phenomenal. In preparation for the parade, I had some great conversations with Ozzie about boys and girls and the things that they like. When I said some kids thought girls couldn’t be Spider-Man, we both agreed that was silly. He told me that the day before a girl at preschool told him that boys couldn’t like sparkles. Also silly, we agreed. What’s not to like about sparkles? They’re sparkly!
We talked about what costume he wanted to have for the parade, and he decided that he wanted to be Toadette from Mario Kart. Now, a word about Mario Kart, which has been our household obsession lately. When Ozzie first started playing, he was reluctant to play as Peach or Rosalina because they’re girls. When he said that, I asked him if he thought it was weird that I play as Waluigi and Bowser. He slowly came around to the idea that he could play as the girl characters. Then he started getting really good at the game. We were down to one character left to unlock, and Ozzie was the one to unlock her: Toadette. Now, he’s pretty much the only one who can play as Toadette (especially now that he also unlocked her monster truck). In my personal moment of parenting triumph, he likes to do races where he’s Toadette and I’m Baby Peach. When we come in 1st and 2nd place in a race, we high-five and shout “Girl Power!” I refuse to raise a future Internet troll.
When we got to the parade (sadly, I couldn’t pull together a Toadette costume in time), I learned that other parents had been having similar conversations with their kids leading up to the main event. So, while people may try to rain on our parade, our neighborhood started something great.
The Mary Sue has great video coverage of the parade, and their post has my favorite comment so far from reader Simon Chui: “I think a lot of people underestimate how often a parade is the correct solution to a problem.”