The Power of Superheroes
He knows all their names, understands the factions and hierarchies, has their monologues and mission statements memorized.
“With great power, comes great responsibility!”
Spit regularly spews from his mouth, his hand is in constant motion as he shoots an open palm at an imagined nemesis, webbing or lasering or deflecting.
How did we end up here? Could I have willed him away from his obsession or do all four year-old boys, no matter how sheltered, no matter how many alternatives are offered, need to work through the battling of good and evil?
“I’m soooo mad!” Jack told us tonight. “Why?” we asked.
“Because I only want to fight and you never want to fight! Only sometimes, but not ALL the time!”
Good guys and bad guys dominate his thinking as he figures out that things don’t last forever; that sometimes bad stuff happens and that he has little control over his own life. He wants to fight to prove that he is very strong and able to defeat any and all sneak attacks. And the sneak attacks are coming; he can sense it with his entire being.
“I will protect you,” he says.
Practice is necessary for survival and he is absolutely incensed that we are often not willing participants. Why don’t we see that he needs to defend us and so must practice?!
The question of survival is his central motivation; however, there is another question regarding survival, which keeps to the shadows and when a light is shined on it, it disappears. The super heroes seem to be the keepers of this light. Sometimes though the question manages to materialize and is laid at Pablo’s feet like a fallen apple, “But will you ever die Daddy? Will I die?” Jack looks at his father, hoping for a bit of logic, which will entirely illuminate his world and reassure his safety.
Unfortunately, we don’t have a neat answer where magic and super powers solve all good guy problems. We assure him that he doesn’t have to worry about that stuff now and that we’ll be around for a long, long time. Then he frowns and shrugs because he knows that we’re keeping grown-up secrets.
He’ll ask us again another day, but for now he must fight.