I remember being genuinely worried. It seemed a real issue…
You see, while my playground peers revelled in the wondrous innovations the new-fangled mobile phone technology promised, I was seriously concerned about the impact these devices would have upon my favourite superheroes.
Yes, I was that kind of kid.
I loved superheroes before it was fashionable. In fact, I loved superheroes long before such a love was so common it had become distinctly unfashionable.
Superheroes were my life. I was convinced, utterly certain, that when I grew up I was going to be a Batman, Superman or Spiderman. There was no doubt about it. Tragically, this belief wasn’t the product of my 4 year old mind. Oh no, well into secondary school I was still harbouring the expectation that life in a cape and cowl would be my destiny.
Back to the mobile phones. It occurred to my adolescent brain that if these pocket filling devices became common place, we wouldn’t need phone boxes anymore? And, if telephonic booths stopped populating out high streets, where the heck would superheroes change? Where would they find a quiet nook to slip into the spandex, if the phone boxes had gone the way of the dodo?
I was some way into adulthood before the penny finally dropped. The life of daring-do I’d seen depicted in comic book panels and flickering upon the silver screen wasn’t going to be mine.
The likelihood of my coming to someone’s rescue was low. VERY LOW. If so-called ‘heroic’ actions were to take place in my life, they wouldn’t constitute of me swinging in and biffing the baddies on the bonce. Far from it. The acts of heroism I was likely to fulfil would revolve around solving tricking Windows-based issues with my superhuman knowledge of the F-key functions. Impressive eh?
“Struggling to go full screen are you sir? Have no fear. Stand back while I press F11!
Oh no, don’t thank me. Thank the tireless minds down in Silicon Valley!”
In time, I acquiesced to the ‘unrealistic’ nature of the super-heroics I’d become obsessed with. This concession became closely tied to my ‘growing-up’. As I put the comics away a little magic disappeared in my world, seemingly forever.
I’m now a father. A role which, if I’m honest, I hadn’t imagined myself into during those formative years. Swinging from skyscrapers in spandex seemed a much more likely scenario than scraping sick from soggy strollers.
Yet, recently, I’ve come to realization that dads can proudly hold their own against the supers of this world.
More than that…
I hesitate to utter it, but I will.
DADS ARE BETTER THAN SUPERHEROES!
Wait. I have proof.
Dads do AMAZING things WITHOUT superpowers. It’s (relatively) easy to save the day if you can fly or walk up the side of buildings. Superheroes (on the whole) are blessed with some pretty nifty abilities that the average person in the street could only dream of. They’ve got a bit (read ‘a lot’) of a head start. The thing is, I’ve seen dads do amazing things with no superpowers whatsoever. OK, OK, what they do might not be as ‘showy’ as the antics of Messrs Wayne, Kent and Stark – but they’re more impressive. I’ve seen a dad change a nappy one-handed while simultaneously dealing with a melting down 3-year-old. Superman couldn’t do that. I’ve seen dads reply patiently to a question they’ve already been asked 1000 times:
“Daddy, why does Grandma have a hairy chin?”
“I’m not sure. Maybe it’s to keep her chin warm?”
“Daddy, why does Grandma have a hairy chin?”
“Didn’t you hear me the last time?”
There’s no way Batman, Mr Misery Guts himself, would put up with this. He’d be sulking in the Batcave before you could say “Kapow!” I’ve also seen dads climb across vertigo inducing cargo nets, in the dizzy heights of soft play areas in order to keep up with over enthusiastic tots. There’s no way Tony Stark would do that without his techno-suit. All-in-all dads do whatever is necessary, whenever it’s necessary – without fanfare.
Dads are invincible Every superhero has an ‘Achilles heel’: with Superman it’s Kryptonite, with Batman it’s his haunting past and with Spiderman it’s the ever present threat of getting stuck in the bath (NB: This is the oldest ‘dad joke’ known to man). Dads, however, are TOTALLY invincible – in the eyes of their children. There is literally NOTHING they can’t do. No superhero I know of could say the same. Dads can scare away the monster hiding beneath your bed. Dads can hug away the hurt when you fall. Dads can hold your hand when you’re nervous, and promise you everything is going to be alright. And it will be alright. Making everything OK is what dads do. The weight of responsibility that lies on dads’ shoulders is (partly) why they’re prone to taking regular naps. It takes a lot of effort to be invincible. The only people who are even more gifted on the invincibility front are mums, they do the same things – but make it look easy.
Batman wishes he had a ‘Dad Bod’! As a kid, I thought that heroes look like Arnold Schwarzenegger – all muscle and bulging veins. Now I know different. The ‘Dad Bod’ is the mark of a true hero. Schwarzenegger with a ‘Dad Bod’ would have been useless. Like Samson, take away Arnold’s strength and all you have is a fella with a bad haircut. Dads, however, do all their amazing feats while rocking a hugely hairy, flabby and tired physique. Dads make dens from quilts and pillows at 6 am when they’re knackered – they don’t wait until a (really rather camp) signal flashes through the sky before they get to work. Dads are always on the case, ready to wipe a nose, tickle a tummy or give a fireman’s lift at a moment’s notice. All this is done with a body that looks like Jabba The Hutt’s (less attractive) brother. How heroic is that? Spiderman spends hours down the gym before donning the Lycra. Dads climb into Speedos at any given opportunity – that’s true bravery!
There are hundreds of things that make dads better than superheroes. Being ‘super’ in the eyes of your children is an honour every dad strives to live up to.
When I ‘grew out’ of superheroes. I gave up some of the magic in my life. I’d thought the transition to being adult, ‘sensible’ and staid was permanent. Yet, I’m glad to say, as a father I’ve seen the alchemy return. Keeping the magic of youth alive in our children is the most exciting, enthralling and ultimately heroic quest of all!
Isn’t that super?
Chris McGuire is a writer and stay at home dad. For more from Chris check out his blog Outofdepthdad.com.