What is it with children and superheroes? It has become a normal, if not natural part of childhood to become fascinated with mythological caped crusaders who lead exemplary lives, fight evil, and seek to save the world. Who from my generation cannot remember the opening line from a popular television series of the 1950s — “Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird. It’s a plane! It’s Superman!”
Now, fifty plus years later, my grandchildren have discovered superheroes. I first became aware of their fascination with such fantasy characters about four years ago. I should not have been surprised — isn’t this to be expected? But, at the time, they had never seen Batman or Superman on television or in a movie. Yet there they were, dressed up in costumes and capes as two of America’s favorite superheroes.
With fists of steel firmly placed upon his hips and a self-confident gaze looking heavenward, my four-year-old grandson proudly stood wearing his Batman outfit. Standing next to him, mimicking his older brother’s stance, an equally confident three-year-old brushed back his Superman cape.
During one of my visits, their mom invited me to join them on their daily neighborhood walk. A highlight of this sojourn was a visit to Superhero Hill. Their mom had convinced these two wannabe Masters of the Universe that this hill was for superheroes to fly up and down with capes flapping in the breeze. With their watchful Poppy in tow, these two caped crusader kiddos demonstrated surprising speed and athleticism, reflecting their newfound passion for masked identities, and the sound of flapping capes.
I asked my four-year-old grandson what superheroes do (other than flying up and down Superhero Hill), and he emphatically stated that Superheroes wore capes and fought bad guys. Thus ended my first lesson in Super-heroism.
Later that day, his brother gave me lesson number two as I prepared to leave for home. He offered me what he described as a superhero hug. His “superhero hugs” I soon discovered had three parts: beginning with a good running start, it was followed by a leap into my arms, and culminating with an extended bear hug.
I told their mom, “I can get used to this raw display of superhero powers.”
On my next visit to this lair of Superheroes, I found a precocious, but winsome four-year-old crusader, sans cape and costume, wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the words, “I have superpowers.” Sensing yet another lesson in Super-heroism, I could not resist asking the obvious question:
Poppy: “Your t-shirt says you have superpowers. What superpowers do you have?”
My Grandson rather sheepishly admitted: “No, Poppy, I really don’t have any superpowers.”
Grandson, with much more conviction: “But Mommy does.”
Poppy: “Your mommy has superpowers?”
Grandson: “Yes, she has superpowers!”
Poppy: “Well, what kind of superpowers does she have?”
Grandson, after a thoughtful pause: “She doesn’t have Superhero superpowers just regular superpowers.”
Poppy: “Regular superpowers?”
Grandson, as though obvious: “Yes, Poppy, mommy has regular superpowers.”
Such wisdom from a child; only four-years-old yet keenly aware that his mother (like all mothers) possesses eyes in the back of her head, intuition uniquely her own, the power to fix all boo-boos, and the uncanny ability to read her child’s mind. And don’t forget the under-appreciated skill of multi-tasking, the ability to be in a hundred places at the same time, and super-hearing that can distinguish true pain from a whine for attention.
In years to come, as my grands reflect upon their super momma, they will appreciate how she enjoyed spending time with her children, how she was always alert to teachable moments, and how she loved their daddy.
I need not fear this newfound fascination my grandchildren have with superheroes. They have discovered that the real superhero does not wear a cape or a mask. The real superhero has a simple moniker — “Mom.”
These “regular” superpowers sound pretty super to me.
Wishing a Happy Mother’s Day to the TRUE Superheroes!
As an added bonus, here are a few related quotes about mothers that confirm I am not the only one who considers moms to be the real superheroes:
“She is beautiful, softened at the edges and tempered with a spine of steel.” — Unknown
“Being a mother is about learning about strengths you didn’t know you had and dealing with fears you didn’t know existed.” — Linda Wooten
“Successful Mothers are not the ones that have never struggled, they are the ones that never give up, despite the struggles.” — Sharon Jaynes
“Raising a kid is part joy and part guerilla warfare.” — Ed Asner
“It’s not easy being a mother. If it were easy, fathers would do it.” — The Golden Girls
“A mother is she who can take the place of all others but whose place no one else can take.” — Cardinal Mermillod
“Who needs superheros when I have mom?” -Unknown
“Her children rise up and call her blessed…” Proverbs 31:28 (RSV)