Redeeming the Misunderstood

My son has always liked the bad guys. It’s always bothered me. I can remember him toddling around in nothing but a diaper befriending invisible bad guys from whatever book or tv show we’d been enjoying. Realize that I’m using the term “bad guy” loosely here. For a toddler, that might mean the kid who didn’t share his chocolate milk. In later years, if we played Transformers, he was always Megatron or Starscrem, i.e. the bad guy. Even as recently as Despicable Me 2, which only came out a few months ago, he wants to hang out with El Macho, the villian. Why not hang out with Edith or Lucy or Gru? Because he doesn’t relate to them. He relates to El Macho. Ding! That’s the bell that went off in my head tonight. Finally. I get it.

Let me explain. We played a role playing game in the same genre as Pathfinder, but for kids. The story is that your characters need to train to protect their city from attacking monsters, so they are in a controlled area with caged monsters and they fight the monsters as they are released by the instructor. Think How to Train Your Dragon. Last night, we tried playing this game with Javan’s grandparents, but he quickly became disengaged. I thought it was just because he was tired. But on the way home, he revealed in his own way (this being the most painfully fragmented way you can possibly think of) that he didn’t want to play anymore because he liked the monsters. They were cute and he wanted them for pets. He didn’t want to fight them.

We played the same game tonight, only our mission was to free the cute caged monsters from the mean Red X’s. Literally, we were fighting X’s. Because you can’t really relate to an X. You don’t desire to redeem an X. But what about a monster? What about the villian? Javan knows what it feels like to be the “bad guy.” He knows what it feels like to be the problem. His bipolar and ADHD make sure of that. He knows what it feel like to be misunderstood. Autism makes sure of that.

But out of that sadness comes this beauty: he knows what it feels like to be worthy of redemption. To be worthy of second chances.  To be worthy of becoming understood.  And somehow, even though at this age it’s only expressing itself with regards to fictional characters, that knowledge has translated into an ability to see redemptive value in anyone. That is beautiful. And I am full of joy knowing that I get to watch that ability grow as he ages. I get to watch that ability manifest itself into real life relationships. And I can see that changing the world in a big way.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Annie (Weebo)
    Jan 27, 2014 @ 21:03:24

    Wow! Just wow!


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