Parents are the true superheroes

Published 12:03am Friday, March 22, 2013

In my book, every superhero needs a super villain.

Think about it. What would Batman be without the Joker and the Riddler? What would Spiderman be without the Green Goblin and Dr. Ock?

Superman would hardly be worth watching without Lex Luther and the other villains who threatened to annihilate Lois Lane’s world.

Everything I know about these superheroes and super villains came from trips to the movie theater in my childhood.

Ask me something about Ironman, Wolverine, Quake or Storm, though, I am a little bit fuzzy. But now I am learning about these newer superheros from my son, who has recently turned our house into his very own comic book universe.

“I am Ironman!’ he exclaims as he weaves around my legs in the kitchen.

He has yet to figure out how to defy gravity and use his imaginary jet pack to fly. That doesn’t stop him from trying as he leaps from the living room couch.

When Gibson’s fascination with everything superhero emerged, there were no super villains. If anything, he was content to experiment with his newfound superpowers. While not a villain, our cat soon learned to hide from Gibson when he went into superpower mode. I, too, realized my vulnerability when sitting on the couch to read the newspaper, Gibson climbed over me like he was scaling a tall building of Metropolis. I had become part of the stage set in Gibson’s imaginary world.

Little did I know that a larger role was awaiting me as SuperGibson’s super villain.

At first it was cute watching my son try to wrap his arms around my legs and wrestle me to the ground, all the while touting his superhuman strength. Even the races to the car each morning were just another way to make going to school fun.

Lately, SuperGibson has been using his powers against Dad’s evil plot to control his every move. When Dad proclaims it is time to get ready for bed or wash hands for dinner, Ironman suddenly comes to the rescue. When it is time to get dressed for school, Gibson extends his arm and an imaginary stream of plasma shoots from his palm, while Gibson exclaims, “I’ve got superpowers.” Of course, he says this defiantly as if his sound effects of laser beams will somehow disarm Dad’s evil intentions to wrestle him into civility.

“I will take away your superpowers,” I responded to his claim recently as I coaxed him into his school uniform.

“You can’t,” Gibson said with a serious look on his face. “My super powers are stuck.”

In recent days, SuperGibson has lost every battle with evil Dad. But that doesn’t stop him from trying.

What Gibson doesn’t know is that I have a dark secret. Evil dad is not evil after all. In fact, evil dad is really a good guy in disguise.

Every mother and father knows that parenting can be energy draining and defeating, especially when your child seems to rail against your best efforts to teach him how to behave and act. In many ways the struggle can make you feel like a villain.

But when he spots you in a crowded room, runs up to you and hugs you or when he points you out to his friends and says, with the brightest smile you have ever seen, “That’s my daddy,” you know that you are not a villain.

In fact, you are a real superhero.


Ben Hillyer is the design editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3540 or by e-mail at