For my son, you are my superhero.
On my knees, combing through books in the children's section of the library, I happened to overhear a woman remark to another that there was no value in superheroes. She went on to clarify that these types of books were simply "silly and downright uneducational". Out of curiosity, I peered around the corner of the bookshelf to get a better look and there I spied Boy O, practically at their feet surrounded by piles of superhero books, blissfully unaware of the conversation taking place above him.
As my face began to turn red with anger, Baby O saw his opening and darted off towards the marble staircase. I had no choice but to switch gears, run after him and direct him back into what I term the safety zone. By the time I arrived back, the women were gone and I plopped myself down next to my boys and let their comments simmer in my noggin, wishing for the opportunity to tell them why I like superheroes.
In the beginning, I would have much preferred Boy O's fixation to be on dinosaurs, birds, insects or snakes. You know, something that I was interested in. I would roll my eyes at the bright outfits and sometimes odd superpowers. The stories (even the ones geared towards 5 year olds) can also get surprisingly complicated and LONG. I mean really long. And we would read them over and over and over....and over.
These superheroes though, they have a way of infiltrating every aspect of our day to day life and I've grown to see them for who they really are.
They set a good example. Not only are superheroes smart, they are usually quite humble in their lives when they are not saving people and they use their powers to help others. They have become fantastic corrective tools-i.e. Would Clark Kent behave that way?
They instill a love of books. Boy O knows all the nooks and crannies of the children's section. He knows to ask a librarian for help if he needs it. His limit is ten books per visit.
They inspire creativity. He has become quite resourceful at fashioning costumes and dwellings from all types of material. Towels, blankets, cardboard boxes will never be the same and hours can be spent designing things worthy of a superhero.
They have a past. All the age-appropriate adoption books I purchased seem one dimensional and empty when I get to the last page. They don't communicate an experience my son can relate to. Many superheroes have lost their parents in some way, shape or form and their loss initiates a transition to conversations about a life and history that can be painful to talk about. I'm glad that he can identify with a superhero.
Superheroes may set great examples, have exciting story lines, and spark imagination but I am most thankful that they have created an avenue in which we get to know our son. We spend time reading side by side, we get creative together and we talk. Sometimes they pop up in the most obvious of places and sometimes they creep up on me from behind. But they always remind me of how valuable they truly are.
Boy O's rendition of the Batmobile: