"SPD - In emergency!"
Whilst on holiday last week one of the few English language channels available in our Spanish hotel showed incessant episodes of ‘Power Rangers’.
Watching it with our 7-year-old son brought back both positive and negative memories.
For anyone who hasn’t seen it, Power Rangers is a bizarre mix of Japanese Manga cartoon back-story with all American college kid heroes. There is no story line as such. The show basically consists of preppy kids transforming into their brightly coloured Power Ranger alter egos to fight various mini Godzilla type baddies that appear from nowhere.
Much loved of little boys, not only for its non taxing (some would say non existent) storylines, but also for the fact that the characters make innumerable and easily copied ‘Haaa-ya’ type cries as they perform improbable kung fu type moves.
We hated Power Rangers when our son, then 3, first came to live with us.
He had watched the show seemingly constantly with the older boys in his foster home and appeared obsessed by it. To us, it epitomized the confusing and very violent past he had witnessed with his birth family.
We therefore initially restricted access to watching Power Rangers, eventually banning it entirely. Linking its violence to our explanation of a past from which we wanted our son to move on.
Our son grew to understand why we had made the link between Power Rangers and his past and, very maturely, last week commented on how he could see that in some circumstances the overly violent programme could have a negative impact on younger children.
We also though remembered a much more positive anecdote the show prompted.
When needing their day-glo friends to assist, the Power Ranger in danger calls help by using the term ‘SPD – Emergency’.
Our week of transition, where we got to know our son, he us and we slowly moved him from his foster home to our own, was a pretty stressful one.
Sadly, my mother died 24 hours before our first meeting, to which we travelled through thick snow and sub zero temperatures. The meeting was just an hour and a half of tea, with the social workers present, in the foster family’s home.
That went well, we played together with a train set on the floor and then made our way home, promising to phone later that evening so that we could say goodnight to our son before his bed time.
With some trepidation J and I called at the allotted time. Our new son answered the phone excitedly, speaking briefly to me first and then J. He asked us numerous questions about our pets, about his new room and about stories we might read him at bedtime.
Then at the end of our conversation he whispered to me, conspiratorially, “You have to remember something, you have to say this to me whenever you see me, “SPD in emergency!”
Our son said exactly the same thing to J at the end of their conversation.
The following day we returned to the foster home to spend the morning with him. After greeting us he took me to one side, whispering “what do you have to say?”
“SPD in emergency,” I replied.
He grinned widely. Went to J, asked the same question, obtained the same answer and did this at each of our meetings through that transition week.
Watching Power Rangers in our Spanish hotel room last week I reminded our now 7-year-old son of those words. He grinned widely and recounted the story to me.
And then he said, “I don’t need you to give me a password any longer to know that I’ll be OK."