I don’t wear a cape. Or fly. Or even have x-ray vision (although that would be a nice super power to have). In fact, about the closest I feel to accomplishing anything even remotely heroic is fixing my son’s lunch in time to take him to school.
But I recently found out that even if I don’t see myself in the role of a hero, sometimes our kids see us with a much different perspective.
I had the chance to travel to Houston recently as part of my job. And I was fortunate enough to be able to take my son with me.
Now Houston may not seem like the ideal destination. But I’ve been there a few times. It’s one of my favorite cities to visit.
And for my son . . . well, he’s never been to a city that big before. He had trouble sleeping the night before we left because he was so excited.
He wasn’t disappointed. The trip was everything that he had hoped for. And more.
He got to attend his first professional baseball game, and almost saw a no-hitter. He got to make his own waffle in the shape of the state of Texas. He got to visit two businesses, and saw some things at both that he found amazing. We got to tour a ship. He got to tour a museum, and aquarium, and an indoor rain forest.
We toured the Galleria Mall, where he put on ice skates for the first time, and instantly skated circles around his dad, who was content to grip the railing while teetering around the rink. And he got to walk on the beach of Galveston.
It’s a trip he’ll never forget. And neither will I.
But with all of the great things that we did, the one thing that will always stick out to me is what happened in our hotel room following our first night’s stay.
I woke up early to go running. And my son groggily woke to my stirrings. Half awake, he asked me, “Dad, did it really happen?”
“Did what really happen?” I asked.
“Did someone try to break into our room last night, and you beat the stuffing out of him?”
In the semi-darkness of our hotel room, I bit my tongue. I wasn’t sure which was funnier. Thinking about someone breaking into our room, or the fact that I would be capable of beating the stuffing out of someone like that. Or just the phrasing that my son had used. Does anyone really use the expression “beat the stuffing” any more?
But before I could answer, he said something else.
“Because I was really scared, but you were a REAL hero.”
I was touched.
And in that moment I realized that our kids see us in much different ways than we see ourselves. While we as parents often view ourselves as bumbling and stumbling through a life that we’re trying to figure out on the fly, our kids have a much different view of us.
To our kids, we are the brave ones, who face the darkness without a night-light – even when we’re trying not to show the fear our kids are feeling. We know what to do, even in the most extreme circumstances. We’ll ALWAYS have the right answers – even when we don’t have a clue.
As our kids get older, that perception of their parents changes. Sometimes for the better. Sometimes not.
But we as parents have a chance to shape that image our kids have of us – with the choices we make, spending time with our kids, keeping the promises that we make.
No, I don’t wear a cape or leap over the tallest buildings in a single bound.
But it felt good to be a hero, if only for a brief moment. And if only in a dream.