Cava watched Spider-man 3 on DVD for the fourth time yesterday. I wasn't too thrilled as I can only take so much Spider-man before it's Spidey overload. But I'm glad I did let him because it led to a conversation that started out about Spider-man but ended up about so much more.
When I picked Cava up from school today, I asked him my usual questions about how his day went. By the time we got to Benjamin's, he told me that he was upset.
"Peter Parker hurt Mary Jane."
This was not the first time he'd mentioned this incident from the film and it clearly made an impression on him that was deeper than just the movie. So I asked him, "Why did he do that?"
"Venom," Cava replied.
Venom is the black substance that overtakes Peter Parker and turns his Spider-man suit dark and feeds off his negative emotions, especially anger.
"Well, yes," I said, "except Venom feeds off anger that is already there, Cava. Remember when that crook shot and killed Uncle Ben in the first movie?"
"That killing not only hurt Peter Parker, it made him angry. But Peter kept that anger inside. He didn't tell Mary Jane or Aunt May about it. When we are angry and we don't express it, but bottle that anger up inside ourselves, then our anger builds and builds until something else, maybe even something small, sets us off. Does that ever happen to you?"
Yes, I know that was a loaded question but I was curious to see what his response would be.
"No," he said unconvincingly and not meeting my eyes.
"Well, it's happened to me." I reminded him of a recent time where one thing upset me and then how little things set me off that day. "And I know it's happened to Mommy or Benjamin."
"Maybe sometimes," he finally admitted.
"It's normal to get angry. When I think of those kids who hurt you back in Ukraine, I get angry. It upsets me that they hurt you, but you know what, Jesus tells me to not only pray for them but to forgive them."
"What does forgive mean?"
"That I don't stay angry with them. And that's hard. Remember how Peter Parker was angry and wanted to hurt the man who shot his Uncle Ben?"
"He let that anger build and build so much that he wanted revenge. Then, when he finally confronted the man who killed his uncle, what happened?"
"But in the end?"
"The Sandman said he was sorry and Peter Parker forgave him."
"Forgiveness is stronger than hate. It was only then that Venom couldn't have a hold on him."
"Cava, you have a lot of reasons to be angry and when you are, you know you can talk to me or Mommy or your teacher about it, right?"
"Like when you told your teacher about your bad dream instead of keeping it inside. That was really good and it helped to make you feel better, didn't it?"
"And I was proud of you for telling her. We want you to share things like that with us because we love you."
"Still, Peter Parker shouldn't have hurt Mary Jane."
"No, he shouldn't have, but, by the end of the movie, they were working on becoming friends again, weren't they?"
"Yes." Then he took one of his workbooks out and told me, "I want to work on this now." I knew this meant the conversation was over and that was fine because we got to have one on something that so deeply impacts Cava. Like Peter Parker, I hope that Cava can break free from the anger that can hold so tightly within him.