“Don’t be afraid I’m superman!”, are the terrifying last words of my son before he jumps off a ridiculously high structure.
If I am not in the same room as him, a chill runs down my spine as I wonder if he checked his landing zone before leaping. Then I pray that his sister wasn’t anywhere near that spot.
This game of pretending to be Superman has been going on for a while, but has only got more intense since he received a Superman figurine and costume for Christmas.
Today as he was in his imaginary world, he looked at me and said “let’s fly mommy!”.
In that moment I almost believed we could.
I’ve learned two things about Superman boys (and men) watching my son play.
1. They want to be a rescuer. We know from the most basic psychology studies that men are problem solvers by nature and don’t like to feel helpless.
I see this is my son already as he asks me what’s wrong, or how I’m feeling or if I am doing ok. If I’m not ok, he generally has a solution at hand (which almost always involves playing with him, which he says will make me happy).
He doesn’t like fear. He isn’t afraid of fear, he just doesn’t want others to be afraid. He hopes that his presence will dispel fear.
“Don’t be afraid, I’m superman!”
2. He wants to do the impossible. He wants to fly. Literally. Limits are chains in his little mind. I can see him saying “let me soar!”.
Not only does he want to do the impossible, but he wants to pull others up to experience life with him.
“Let’s fly mommy!”
Some people have been told so many times that they can’t do something that they stop dreaming altogether.
They might need a little perspective, but whose to say they couldn’t fly with a little help from a hang glider?
So if your son, or husband, is anything like mine (my guys are a lot alike), here’s a word we shouldn’t say in response to these desires.
Get it out of your vocabulary, forget it exists, tape your mouth shut, just don’t say the C-WORD!
Telling a “superman” guy that “he can’t” is just too damaging for him to hear. Two things could happen.
1. He works harder just to prove your wrong.
2. He feels stupid and gives up.
Instead we need to be dream releasers who embrace and encourage their fearlessness. When they invite us to fly with them, pack your parachute.
If my son does the impossible, I sure don’t want it to be him trying to prove me wrong. I want it to be him proving to himself that every positive thing I’ve spoken over him is truth!
Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.