Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Shark Boy and God

Last Thursday my wife and boys headed to the Library to load up on books that never fail to induce a new “kick” for the month. Depending on what books they choose, our boys could come out of the Library as superheroes or Space Men. This week it happened to be books about astronauts so naturally my son informed me that he will be missing some school because he is going to the moon.

Anyway, this month they also came home with the movie Shark Boy and Lava Girl. We heard about the movie but had yet to see it so we really did not know what to expect. Friday night came, we ate our pizza, we popped our popcorn, and we settled in for movie night. From the opening scene when Shark Boy was separated from his father to be raised by sharks until the end when the Ice Princess saved the day by freezing Mr. Electricity, my boys were captivated. I don’t want to give the whole movie away because it is certain to be on your “I can’t wait to see this” list, so let me get to the point.

My son’s new hero is Shark Boy. In fact, his new identity is Shark Boy. Yesterday he told me that he was the king of the ocean and that he can feel his teeth getting sharper. He even lifted up his arms to show me where his gills were growing. (The great thing about our ribs is that they do look like shark’s gills under the skin).

I like living with Shark Boy. I like it because not only am I protected when I am near water, but also because it means that my boy is not giving into culture. He is not being discouraged by our public school system that values conformity over creativity. He is not discouraged by the fact that even though he is Shark Boy, he has to wake up and go to school and obey his parents. Living with Shark Boy shows me that there is more to this world than what meets the eye. And just because not everyone believes in Shark Boy doesn’t mean that he isn’t there.

I also like living with Shark Boy because that means that at some point during the day, I will have to give up my secret identity and morph into some super-hero that will assist in destroying Mr. Electricity and his “Plug-Hounds”. This allows me to get into my son’s world and it allows me to validate his being in that world. My wife and I talk about this often and we just really want our kids to live to the fullest. To live lives unrestricted by unnecessary boundaries and to have no shame in imagining and dreaming.

I also think this will help them some day when they really begin to understand what faith is all about. If they have been allowed to live by their rules and not the limiting rules of society, then they will be better prepared to stand alone in their beliefs. They will also be better prepared to believe in a God that isn’t confined by modern-day Western culture. Shark Boy and Lava Girl could do anything they wanted to do because they were in the world imagined by the main character, Max. Just like God can work things anyway He chooses because we are in the world that He created.

I don’t want to turn this into a lofty theology lesson, I just want to say thanks to my one- front tooth, 6 year old, Shark Boy.

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