When my son turned four he went on a serious superhero kick. One lazy day, I decided to see if I could find some episodes of Batman streaming online. Well, luckily I previewed the show, because it opened with someone being shot dead in a convenience store with a machine gun. Not quite age appropriate for my son. Or for me for that matter.
The superhero show of my youth was Super Friends, where the extent of the violence was tricking someone to slip on a banana peel. This show seemed a bit more age-appropriate for my four-year old, so I ordered "The All-New Super Friends Hour."
Not only is the show relatively violence-free, it is also chock-full of helpful life lessons. In fact, dare I say it? Pretty much everything you need to know you can learn from Super Friends. To wit:
1. Surround yourself with friends who challenge you.
The Super Friends fit so well together because they each have their own strengths. Need to summon sea creatures? Aquaman is your guy. Need something lassoed? Call in Wonder Woman. Need anything done that doesn't involve water or a lasso? Well, Super Man. He's a bit of an overachiever that one. Outside the hallowed walls of the Halls of Justice, you should also strive to surround yourself with people who challenge you to be better and who have strengths and interests different than your own.
2. Take time away from work to do something you love.
No matter how busy the Super Friends are, in every episode they manage to take a break for a fun craft or magic trick and a little brain teaser. If people who literally have to save the world for their jobs can take a break, so can you.
3. Don't be afraid to laugh at your own jokes.
In the episode "The Whirlpool," a ship captain goes mad with power trying to break a speed record, which ends up nearly costing his life and the lives of his crew. A sad but all-too-common state of affairs in the '70s, apparently. After the Super Friends save the day, the captain laments that he will probably lose his license. Aquaman says "You certainly came close to establishing a speed record," to which Black Vulcan adds "Right to the bottom of the ocean."
Everyone stares at each other awkwardly for a moment and then the Super Friends laugh and laugh and the captain joins in. Potentially awkward moment is broken and levity ensues. It works in the real world too. Give it a try.
4. Invest in flattering clothes.
Because, Wonder Woman. And also Aquaman. Rrowr.
5. It never hurts to ask.
There are so many times on Super Friends when a whole lot of trouble could have been avoided if someone had just asked for help in the first place. Need a vacation? Don't stow away on a ship, just ask to come aboard! Need hundreds of tons of bedrock? Don't steal it from the earth's core, just ask someone who is capable of flying into space and retrieving some for you! No harm in asking, and you may just get what you need.
6. Pets are a lot of work, but worth it (most of the time).
Gleek the space monkey is a total pain. He's always getting into trouble, touching things he's not supposed and just generally making a nuisance out of himself. But every once in a while he totally saves the day. Plus he looks super cute in his little cape. While our cats have yet to save the day or consent to wearing a cape, I know it's coming.
7. Never steal someone's airplane, even just for a quick ride.
Also don't stow away on a ship -- there might be a dangerous sea storm coming. And hitchhiking is bad. Also, when running a road race, don't shimmy across a rope hanging over a cavernous pit to cheat your way to first place. Apparently these were the biggest issues facing youth back in our day. (Perhaps this life lesson could also be called: Know your target audience.)
8. Be careful what you name your children.
If you name your kid Newton Domehead, you're probably going to end up with an evil scientist in the family.
9. It will all work out, have faith.
You may be miles down a bottomless pit and all may seem lost, but with the right tools, perseverance and a little help from your friends, you can find your way out again.
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