Today’s post was written by my close friend, a hardcore geek girl, and fellow homeschooling mom of 3, Bear.
My Little Pony’s revival in the Friendship is Magic series (2010-present) has taken many parents by storm. And many husbands and wives.
Somehow, in the whirlwind, MLP has not only made little girls happy, but little boys, grown women, and even–in spite of the liberally offered disapproval–grown men.
Now, honestly, I’d heard of the characters, early on, when my daughter was very young, but it was hard to imagine to what level it would become a part of my daily life. See, shortly after the show’s awakening, I was a single mom and low ranking in the US Military, so my First Sergeant and Toys for Tots got my eldest (at the time: only) on their Angel Tree.
(Rabbit trail: Having volunteered, this year, and seeing how well they’ve got the situation under control, if you have the slightest concern about Christmas, put your kids on an Angel Tree; there’s enough stuff to go around. If you find yourself well-to-do, fill a Toys for Tots box or adopt an angel. And either way, volunteer this November/December to pack Christmas bags. It’s SUCH a pleasure to give to less fortunate children. Most of them had a better Christmas than my kids, this year, and I loved helping! As did my eldest.)
Long story short, one of her favorite toys was a big mechanical Pinkie Pie. Her legs were bent at an odd angle and she’d “crawl” around when you played with her, calling out, “I’m Pinkie Pie and I LOVE to crawl!” Once my daughter passed her on, I thought that would be the end of it.
And then I had a son.
I don’t know when it started. I’m not sure if we had cable or if he found it on Netflix. I assume it must have been while my daughter was in a public Kindergarten or first grade, in Savannah. He must have used the ponies to occupy his time. But they became more than that. They became his friends.
Now, let me be clear. My son, now five years old, is not a docile creature. He’s what’s called “a boy’s boy”. He’s a Power Rangers and Doctor Who fan, and his favorite Avenger is The Hulk. He spends hours a week, watching his dad play Dragon Age or Skyrim, then wanders off with whatever “weapon” he can find to battle his own imaginary dragons.
But he loves–I mean LOVES–My Little Pony; Friendship is Magic.
At first I didn’t get it, nor did I care. He was what? Three?
I guess we’re all there when our child picks up a fandom we don’t love. At least when they’re little. We think, “Oh, they’ll grow out of it,” and “It’s a phase.”
Well, he hasn’t grown out of it.
In fact, this past year, we were walking through Target when he saw a My Little Pony bicycle. Now, DS has never had a bicycle before this, and I didn’t take him halfways seriously when he mentioned it because–at the risk of sounding cheap–I’d never pay full price for a bicycle from the store. Not at that age. And not for me. But a few weeks later, we stopped to visit Santa Claus, and I found out that he really wanted that Rainbow Dash bike! Oh, my word! Now, I’d already finished spending on Christmas–getting him “I Can Read” or “World of Reading” level 1 Avengers books, My Little Pony coloring books, a see-through pea planter (shaped like an ant farm), and even a 10 gallon terrarium to keep bugs he catches in.
But he wanted THAT bike.
So I did the only thing I know to do (and this is the only time I’ll mention it, because it’s Suzy’s blog, but it’s a cornerstone of who I am): I told him to pray for the bike because I simply don’t have the money for a brand new bike.
And it worked. A friend of mine heard about the bike and opened a GoFundMe account for him, and within 48 hours, people we’d never even met and people from my long lost past had come together to buy the bike and pay for shipping and handling to have it under the tree for Christmas. A Rainbow Dash bicycle, for my little boy. Grateful doesn’t begin to describe my feelings!
Likewise, in spite of my confusion on the exact purpose of a Brony, we celebrated his fourth year with MLP. See, I’d had a cesarean section with my third child–another boy–only a few weeks before my second’s birthday. I must have spent a total of half an hour with him on his fourth birthday. I was having trouble nursing and I had developed an abdominal hematoma, so I was bedridden until well after his time for celebration had passed. This, of course, made me feel awful, so I made sure to give him a humongous party at the six month mark.
That’s right. My boy had a 4-½ birthday party, it was swamped, and it was My Little Pony themed. And it was so much fun. I made my own “pin the cutie sign on Applejack” poster, and decorated the whole house in red and orange. (Applejack is his favorite–and properly so.) I was glad for the opportunity to make him feel special, even if I’m not the biggest MLP fan.
And now I answer the critics.
Obviously, if you’re following Suzy’s blog, you’re familiar with being a geek–and probably are some type of geek, yourself–so you’re probably familiar with the feeling most of us grew up with of not quite fitting in because we were so crazy about X-Y-Z, where the majority of our class didn’t know it existed. (I’m still a Gundam Wing fanfic writer and even most geeks I know don’t know what that show is!)
I’ve actually lost count of the amount of people who felt the need to tell me that they “don’t understand why a boy would watch MLP,” or “why a GROWN MAN would…” In fact, most MLP comments I’ve heard are very homophobic and transphobic in nature, and that’s not a thought process I understand. Now, some of my son’s gifts are from a grown Bronie (the official fandom) who I’ve known all my life. (Yes, I do mean a grown man who loves MLP.)
And all of the questions leave me with one simple answer: Why not?
Friendship IS magic.
Doesn’t that fill the need for something in our lives? Don’t we need more honesty and loyalty in this world–in our friendships?
Now, even I have a favorite episode that makes me stop everything and cuddle up with my little man to enjoy some of Pinkie Pie’s magic of laughter. In fact, I have a favorite pony–and she does not love to crawl. On the contrary, where my younger self was very much like Rainbow Dash–loyal but brash–I’ve come to relate more in my “old age” to Applejack. Honesty is very important to me. (I’d rather you tell me a painful truth than a happy lie any day of the week.) That’s right, y’all. I will sit down and really watch the snot out of some Season 1: Episode 4, “Applebuck Season”, where stubborn Applejack decides to prove herself tougher than her brother thinks and takes on WAY too much, finally learning that friends are there to help.
And I need that reminder, often. I get so covered in my list of things to do–I want so bad to be that friend who’s there for everyone, when I can hardly handle my own lot–that I need that I reminder that I am only human and my friends are there to help me, with their honesty, kindness, laughter, generosity, loyalty, and magic.
We all go through phases where we wonder what friendship could or should be–we all go through phases where we lose people we thought would never leave us–and we need that reminder that friendship itself is still there, and it’s still magic. It’s a big adventure and tons of fun and beautiful hearts, faithful and strong, and sharing kindess, it’s an easy feat, and our shared humanity makes it all magical and complete.
Who wouldn’t want their child to learn that that side of the world is out there, waiting for us to discover?
Bear is a card-carrying geek who loves Doctor Who, Disney Princesses, her husband, and her 3 children. She is also a Christian homeschooler and admin assistant at UnStopping the Old Wells, a wonderful resource for those interested in the word of God.
This post has been part of The ABCs of Raising Well-Rounded Geeklings series.