I have a husband and two sons therefore I live in a sea of testosterone but my boys are not into sports instead they love super heroes with an equivalent – if not myopic – level of obsession . My wonderful, loving, supportive, brilliant husband is a comic (excuse me – graphic novel) nerd and this love has rubbed off onto all three kids – even our daughter would much rather talk about the Marvel universe than the Disney princesses. So instead of fight against it – I have chosen to embrace this weird little niche and to thank my lucky stars that I am not a football widow. The nerd fest of factoids, upcoming films, new and “exciting” iterations of time honored characters, and retelling of old story lines – though often I’m not sure what the hell they’re talking about – have me far more engaged than end zones, fumbles, jump shots and RBI’s – wait..I don’t think that’s right. Oh well…
So the other day I was reading while my boys were watching an episode of Batman Brave and the Bold. I limit this stuff because while the messages are good they can be a little more violent than I would like. So this was a special opportunity to engage in this particular show. In the background I could hear the dialogue and the more I listened the more I was pulled into the show. In this particular episode Batman and his young sidekick-like fellow super hero Blue Beetle passed through a worm-hole and ended up in another universe with tiny little blob-like beings who found themselves in a certain amount of peril – as is usually the case. Upon seeing the Bat and his friend the little “blobbies” become very excited and Bat and Beetle automatically assume they must know the Dark Knight on this planet and are happy to have him arrive and save them from their troubles. However, it quickly becomes clear as the creatures gather around Blue Beetle that he is the one they believe is their hero and they chant “All hail the blue one! All hail the blue one!” Well the Beetle is caught off guard and quickly reminds them that he isn’t the hero here – Batman is the hero they’ve been looking for. Well for all of his Jedi mind-tricking (Yes, I know that’s from another movie) he can’t convince these little guys that he’s not their Beetle. Batman, being the good leader that he is stands back and encourages the Beetle to step-up, to become the hero that these little alien creatures think he is. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions or seek out this episode on Netflix but I think you can figure out what happens in the end.
So of course this got me thinking about heroism in its many forms but mostly in the everydayness of life. When we become parents we are a little like the Blue Beetle – reticent to make the hard choices, afraid of our certain failure and equally terrified of our power in this new world in which we are the ultimate giver of life, care, love, discipline, and dinner – everyday forever. The older our kiddos get the more often we are faced with situations in which we have to do “what’s in their best interest” even when they are sure we hate them and our only goal in life is to ruin theirs. This morning I found myself walking through the house saying very loudly “I am sorry to be the mean awful person who makes you wear clothes and eat food!” After the meltdowns and the craziness were done we had a talk in which I said I loved them and it wasn’t my job to make everyone happy all the time. It’s my job to make sure they know how to do the things they need to do so they can grow up and live in the world. It’s for sure that they only heard about half of what I said but when the talk was over I got hugs and we all said I love you without being forced or threatened so I consider that a success. I will build my house with the bricks of tiny wins.
Parenting is so much like the Blue Beetle with the blobbies – we showed up expecting one party and ended up in another one. Only this party asks a lot more of us. I was not Batman – I didn’t have the resources at first or the knowledge, the strength or the courage.
And yet, I realize that there are so many parents who face challenges so much more intense than the fact that my children don’t want to eat food or wear clothes. I have a number of friends whose children have special needs of various forms and the challenges that they face make me cry and cheer and pray for they are true heroes. I don’t ever want to trivialize their experiences or put them on a pedestal because everyone is human and I like to think that we would all step-up in every situation – but I know that not everyone does. These people who I see doing amazing things in this world, and working so hard to make sure that their children’s needs are met, are special and they deserve more resources and more help and more money and more time and more hours in the day and just more of everything. Their kids are a blessing and they belong on this earth and they bring so much joy; but meeting their needs is harder and being their parents is more exhausting and yet theses parents keep showing up.
I feel like this post is a bit tangential but there’s a lot to be said about heroes and what they look like and how they’re made. So here we are. I hope you’ll stay on the tangent roller coaster with me for a little while longer. Because here’s the other thing about that episode of Batman Brave and the Bold – the part when Batman stepped aside and LET Blue Beetle find his heroness. That’s how it happens family – someone let us go into the world either by choice or by necessity, or both, and we had to find it on our own. We have to also let our children find it for themselves – even when they’re scared and uncertain – especially then. We have to keep challenging ourselves to find it in new ways and we have to get out of the way of others. That’s a huge and powerful gift – letting others find out how strong they are.
So as you go forth into your day try to find opportunities to be someone’s Batman and find your inner Blue Beetle. I really do love you guys.