I remember very distinctly being 14 and my Mom asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up. It was the summer before I entered 9th grade and high school. I think my answer caught her a little off guard, maybe not. My answer was simple and to the point.
“I want to be a superhero,” I said. I was serious, and even though I was prone to my share of sarcasm at that age, there was none in that statement or sentiment. I wanted to be super human. To do right, fix wrongs, and save the planet. My definition of “hero” was and is a broad one, but I desperately wanted to be a symbol of right, compassion, and justice for the world.
Maybe now it feels a little naive to me to have been so innocent back then. However, asked the same question now in my 39th year, I’m pretty sure I’d give the same answer.
What do I want to be when I grow up? A superhero. Hands down, there’s nothing else I’d rather be.
My youngest daughter had surgery a couple weeks ago, nothing serious, minor as far as surgeries go. However, she was anesthetized, and someone with a very sharp knife cut open her perfect little body and removed pieces of it. And that frightened me.
As summer winds down and autumn winds pick up, we’ve been cramming as much fun summer activities into these last few days of beautiful weather. I watched my girls doing cartwheels and eating creemees. We laughed, joked, and we talked. My oldest, completely unprompted, began describing the person she was planning on marrying. Now, please be assured, this is a topic I avoid at all costs. I want my girls to be little girls and children for as long as possible, and I never prompt or encourage them to think along these threads. Ever. However, as she began to describe her “husband,” he began to take a familiar shape. Her ideal suitor turns out to be… me. And with that, a thought struck me.
This is my moment.
To my girls, right now, I am super human. Flawed, undoubtedly, but they overlook, forgive, and maybe even ignore them. What they see is that superhero my 14-year-old self wished to be. In my girls’ minds, I can accomplish anything. I am defender, righter of wrongs, protector of justice.
This is my moment. All parents’ moments, really.
It won’t last, I know. For not only are my daughters my yellow sun, but they’re also my kryptonite as well. Like two Mondays ago, when I stood defenseless at the OR door, or when they grow just a little older and the cape falls from my shoulders and the “S” on my chest changes meanings to them all together. I know this, believe me, I do.
But right now, for this brief moment in time, to them I am bulletproof. As surely as I would step before a bullet for them, they believe it will ricochet off of me.
Today, to my daughters, I am super human. Today, FOR my daughters, I AM super human.
Today, I can be that symbol of right. Today, I must try to save the world for them. For my powers may only last a short time, but today I can accomplish anything.
Today, every parent is a superhero in their children’s eyes. We can stand as one, banding together like the Justice League or the Avengers. We can fight and defeat the bigger foes we cannot topple individually.
All we need to do is accept the fact that to our children, we’re superheroes. And, with that knowledge, comes the responsibility of being heroes. No more excuses for bad behavior, procrastination, or apathy. No more excuses for inaction.
We’re heroes, damn it! It’s time we act like ’em.
So, in my 39th year, I finally realized I’d grown up a little. My powers had arrived and I almost missed them, but just like the best comic book hero, they may have arrived just in the nick of time.