When I was about 5 or 6 years old, I had a friend who was obsessed with Spider-Man.
He wore his Spider-Man pajamas to school (it was only kindergarten, and even if it hadn’t been, there were no dress codes all those years ago.) He taught us all the theme song to the Spider-Man cartoon; he was constantly shooting webs from his wrists like the real Spider-Man does.… Like I said, he was obsessed. I was never really into the whole superhero thing. I mean, Wonder Woman was cool because she could use her jewelry to evoke her various super powers, but I was never obsessed with the whole thing. Though, Christopher Reeve, who played Superman, was extremely handsome, and I could never figure out how they cast Margot Kidder as Lois Lane because she wasn’t anything spectacular to look at.
In any event, fast forward to my being a mom of three little boys, and for some reason, superheroes were never in their vernacular. I don’t even think we had any superhero figurines. We had lots of beanie babies, courtesy of my mom, who was always teaching them about the different kinds of animals. (And also when one brother threw a beanie baby at another brother, it didn’t leave a mark.) We had a ton of Legos-non-choking hazard size all the way down to some that were so small that even if they did swallow it they wouldn’t choke. (Please don’t try this at home.) Games, puzzles, a miniball pit and, of course, lots and lots and lots of balls. But no superheroes. Or Barbie dolls. Not that there is anything wrong with little boys playing with Barbie dolls.
Why am I talking about superheroes? Thanks for asking. The other day I was babysitting for two little kids. The boy is 5 and the girl is 2. Of course I was intimidated by the little girl as I have no idea what to do with girls. (That includes changing their diapers. Is it front to back or back to front?) But I was ready for the boy. Boys are my jam.
So I meet these kids, and they are adorable and I am on the floor playing with them (note to the mom, if you hear your little girl say “oy vey” she got that from me, as it is the thing I exclaim every time I get up from the floor) and all of a sudden the boy starts talking about superheroes. Spider-Man, Superman, Batman , Ironman, Wasp (no clue), Antman (who is that?), the Hulk, and so on and so forth. “Do you like any baseball teams?” I asked, hopeful that we could get into a conversation about the future of the Mets, but no. We were going to talk superheroes. Even the little girl knew every single one of them and probably knew their superpowers, but I was totally powerless. Though by the time I left, I was well versed in conversation about the Man of Steel and his minions.
But it got me thinking about superpower. If you grow up learning about superheroes, do you think that you are gifted with your own superpower? I have often referred to husband #1 as “Minyan Man,” able to locate a minyan no matter where he is or what he is doing. Extra-innings baseball game in the middle of a tornado in Kansas City? We have a Chabad! Lightning storm in Pittsburgh before a game? Two shuls within a 10 mile radius. That is his superpower.
As for my superpowers? I am not sure that sarcasm or grudge-holding is considered a superpower, but if I could choose one superpower, well, the corny choice would be able to heal anyone who is sick. That would be amazing. My more realistic choice, since this discussion is based totally on reality, would be to be invisible. How many times, when you leave a room and you know there are people talking about you, don’t you just want to hear the conversation? And clearly you cannot do that if you are standing there, visibly in the room. I would like to be invisible, to get into someone’s house and hear the real conversations, not the fake-fluttering stuff. I want to hear the really nitty-gritty and then not use it against them, because that would be evil and I want to be a good guy, not a bad guy,
But although probably it is more fun to be a bad guy, I choose to remain virtuous, because that’s just the kind of super chick I am.
What’s your superpower of choice? Let me know. I am quite curious.
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck would only wear a superhero costume that is modest and baggy. because she wants her boys to respect her character.