Ever since he was able to look at a book, my son (6) has been fascinated by superheros, comic books and anything remotely sci fi. Whenever he was asked what he wanted to do when he grew up, he didn’t say “football player, movie star, cowboy or astronaut,” he stated that he wanted to build a superhero suit that could make a person faster and stronger and help them fly.
Recently though, he has a bit of a crisis of faith. He has reached the stage where he knows the difference between fact and fiction and knows that “superheroes” are not real and their exploits are only to be found in the pages of comics (and, yes, I have used the “but police and firefighters are superheros too” line… only to be met with a look that says, “yeah, I know that, dad, you are missing the point”). To say the little guy was upset was an understatement. It was as if his whole life plan had been ripped away from him. It was one of those moments, as a parent, that breaks your heart. I tried so hard to find the words that would offer him comfort, but for once I came up empty, and could only say “I’m sorry, buddy” and give him a hug.
My wife, on the other hand, had different plans. She sat down in front of him and told him the following:
When great Grandma (who is 96) was little there were no airplanes, they didn’t exist. When she was little, if she got sick, there was no special medicine that would take her fever away and make her better in a few days, it didn’t exist. There were no cars that could drive 100 miles an hour, they didn’t exist. When bad guys shot at cops, they didn’t have body armor to protect them, it didn’t exist. What do all of those examples have in common? Well I’ll tell ya, all of those things were dreamed up by people who were once kids like you. So who’s to say that you can’t make a “super suit?” You might not get it right the 1st time or the 51st time or even the 101st time, BUT, if you surround yourself with other smart kids, who’s to say that on the 102nd time you get it right and boom, you’ve changed the world?
To watch his eyes light back up was one of those moments that melts your heart. He got his passion restored from some well timed words from his mom.
I’m pretty sure there is a point in all of this. Something about following dreams and reality and having a purpose? But the more I re-read this the more I’m left with the fact that parenting is hard, and that parenting a smart kid is REALLY hard and that I’m lucky to have back up. I wish you all good parenting, and that you have the kind of “back up” that you love and respect as much as I love and respect mine.