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Real heroes are not in comic books

Take that Spiderman! You are no match for the superpowers of the Natchez Animal Control officer.

If there is one thing I have learned lately, it is this: parents can’t pick their children’s superheroes.

Superman, Captain Marvel, Batman and their many friends from the Justice League are classic superheroes. Watching these comic book characters come to life on the screen, many children are left wide-eyed and excited to imagine what it would be like to possess such powers.

Spiderman was my favorite superhero growing up. Looking back, I know I annoyed my parents jumping from the sofa to the recliner pretending to jump like Spidey from building to building. I know they are thankful that I never chose to swing from the ceiling fan or chandelier.

My son’s real fascination with superheroes started when he got his first taste of the Ninjago. Since then, he has been performing karate chops and air kicks through the house exclaiming that he is no mere blond-haired, brown-eyed five year old. No, he is a Ninja.

Some days Gibson is a red Ninja, other days he is a black Ninja. Either way, ever since he came to know the characters of the Lego videos, he has been performing his new superpowers on everything from the living room furniture to the family cats.

In a few instances, Gibson has become so fascinated with these characters that he insists on dressing like them, which wasn’t a problem until he wanted to dress in all red for Sunday school.

His love of everything Ninja recently received a boost at the beach when his older cousins introduced him to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Now green is Gibson’s favorite color — or at least it was until we found a young possum trapped in our garbage can Monday.

When I let Gibson catch a glimpse of the animal, I knew he wasn’t going to try any of the moves he had been practicing as he stiffened in my arms.

Superman may be faster than a speeding bullet and Spiderman may spin webs of steel, but there is only one person to call when you find a large rodent in your trash can — the animal control officer.

I wasn’t there when the officer came to trap the creature, but there was no mistaking that the man who visited our house made a giant impression.

That evening my wife led me into Gibson’s room, where I found various boxes and baskets filled with stuffed animals scattered on the floor.

At first I didn’t realize what I was seeing until I saw the wire trash can, topped with an old milk bottle crate tied together with Gibson’s jump rope. Inside the trash can was Charlie the raccoon — a stuffed animal Gibson was given when he was a baby.

Gibson was so impressed when the officer reached into the garbage can, picked up the young possum and swung it by its tail into a wire cage, that Gibson set up his own traps for his raccoon, various rabbits, stuffed mice and other creatures.

Really, I had no idea we had so many stuffed rodents under our roof, but each and every one of them were caught in one of his contraptions.

Gibson had even built a pen in the corner of his bedroom for our live cats. Thankfully, no live animals were harmed in Gibson’s antics.

Realizing what he had done, I could do nothing but laugh.

It just goes to show that the real heroes in our town are not wearing capes.


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