Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The She-Ra Resurrgence

When I started pre-school in 1983, a new show called He-Man had hit the daily afternoon cartoons. As one of the only girls of my pre-school class, I was quickly swept up into the make-believe world of He-Man, Master of the Universe. Having never seen the show (I was a 4-year-old girl after all) I stepped into my role as Teela, following the lead of my better informed male classmates.

Two years later She-Ra premiered, and suddenly my after school hours were complete. He-Man didn't really interest me, but his twin sister, that was a different story. She was strong, blond (just like me), and a female superhero I could look up to. I didn't see her as the female version of He-Man. She was She-Ra, Princess of Power, end of story. Every day after school I pushed to make sure we made it home in time for me to watch. This was the 1980s. We didn't have cable, we had four stations that came in over antenna. DVR didn't exist, and setting up the VCR to tape She-Ra every day would have been considered silly. Instead I had to depend on the fates of Detroit traffic to get me home in time. On afternoons when we didn't make it, for a variety of reasons, I was crushed. In first grade I was She-Ra for Halloween. For my seventh birthday I excitedly opened my very own She-Ra and Angella figurines, which have long become lost to the abuses of childhood (I'm pretty sure they took their fair share of baths with me). My metal baton was my sword, and I remember one particular day when my sister and I got into a significant amount of trouble because we were fighting with our "swords" in the dining room. It might not have been much of a problem, but my sister's plastic, glitter filled baton was no match for my solid, shining metal one, and with one single swipe of my "sword," the inferior plastic broke in half, sending water and glitter all over the dining room and into the carpet at our feet. My bike became She-Ra's flying horse Swift Wind (when I wasn't being her alter ego, it was also Adora's horse Spirit). After all, there are very few horses to be found in the middle of Detroit, so I had to improvise. And I insisted on wearing my healed snow boots as I ran around pretending to raise my sword "for the honor of Grayskull." Ah, the innocent memories of childhood.

As parents we look forward to being able to share our childhood loves with our children. Growing up as a little girl with a stay-at-home mom, I became well versed in I Love Lucy reruns and I have memories of a family vacation when I was in high school during which we visited at least one of Laura Ingalls Wilder's childhood homes. I have determined that someday our children will learn to appreciate all six Star Wars films (although I do have my reservations about allowing them to watch the atrocity that is The Phantom Menace), many of the other films of my childhood, and my favorite books, such as Charlotte's Web and Bunnincula. Then last week my husband came home with a $1 DVD of the first season of She-Ra, and now our three-and-a-half year old daughter is hooked. She is just as enthralled as I was, nearly 30 years ago, by the heroine who was determined to save her friends from the evil Horde. I am watching a little-me in action. She runs around with a bumblebee on a stick which serves as her "sword," she acts out the action she has seen in one of the 10 episodes we have that seem to be on constant replay, and yesterday she informed me that when she grows up, she wants to be She-Ra with long yellow hair. Never mind that my daughter is a towhead, the real life version of a cartoon blond. Her hair isn't yellow and only that will do.

It's silly and delightful at the same time. I love that she has connected with something that I connected with when I was a couple years older than her. I love watching her imagination at play. She IS She-Ra once she stars running around with her bumblebee on a stick, and anyone who says that television is killing kids' imaginations hasn't seen my daughter at play. Sure I am concerned that any day now she is going to try to convince her friends at daycare to join her in games about which they are clueless, but if their parents are our age, it shouldn't take long to explain it to them. There are many joys to parenting, and it's moments like this that remind me that in 10 years, when she is screaming that she hates me as she slams her bedroom door shut in my face, I will have these small, sweet moments of connection with my little girl. These sweet memories put a smile on my face now, and I pray that when we hit our most difficult moments in the years to come, these memories will still remain so that I will remember the sweet little girl I fell in love with. In the meantime, remember that "We have the power, so can you."

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