Thursday, June 4, 2009

I'm no superman, but my son believes I am!

Yesterday, my son wanted to wear his Superman pajamas all day long. He has taken to calling himself, “Super Jackson”. He has been known to run into our living room, in full superhero gear yelling, “SuperJackson to the rescue!” He has not yet tried to jump off the roof and fly, but we are worried. My three year old son has become a full fledged superhero, or at the very least, a super fan of superheroes.

Superman was also my favorite superhero. I collected his comic book for many years as a child. He is widely considered to be an American cultural icon. Superman was originally created in 1938 and appeared first in Action Comics #1 in June of that year. He was known the Man of Tomorrow, or more recently the Man of Steel. I am such a fan that even as an adult, I still have a growing collection of Superman paraphernalia. But why is it that we love Superman? Is it that he represents what we want to be or is it that we see some of ourselves in the Man of Steel? The truth probably lies somewhere in between.

Superman represents the best this world has to offer. He is a righteous role model who seeks justice and fights for those that cannot defend themselves. He can fix any problem, right any wrong, and protect us from the “bad guys”. And yet despite so many strengths, we find in our hero many weaknesses. He is an outsider, an orphan from the planet Krypton with no family to be found. He has difficulty expressing his feelings (especially when it comes to the lovely Lois Lane). Despite his super powers, he hides behind the mild-mannered, dual-identity of Clark Kent. Then there is the ever dangerous kryptonite that steals the powers of our caped crusader. Can’t we all relate to this guy, a man with a pure heart to do good, yet suffering from so many weaknesses?

Our children need to believe in a Superman. They need that safety; they need that security in their little worlds. It was the highlight of my day recently when my son jumped into my arms and said, “You my Superman, Daddy!” The truth is, we ARE Superman. Despite our many flaws and weaknesses (by the way, for those of you looking for my weakness - pizza is my kryptonite), we are our children’s heroes. We don’t have to be faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. But we do need to be there. We need to be present and we need to love them, unconditionally. Allow yourself to be inspired by the vision your child has of you. Be a hero, better yet, be a SUPER hero! For more information on how your can be your child’s Superman, contact me at or 472-9876.

Matt Ryerson is the Vice President of Community Investment Strategies at the United Way of Bradley County. He has a beautiful wife and two wonderful children (one of which often wears a cape to bed). He is the human to Tucker the dog. His column appears in the Cleveland Daily Banner every Wednesday. He recently found out that his mother threw out all of his old comics long ago. Tears were shed.

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