I experienced a wonderful self-discovery recently. I’m somewhat of a modest person, so it shocked me to find out that I am a hero. That’s right, a fearless, selfless, compassionate, danger-facing bona fide hero! At least, in my daughter’s eyes.
My daughter had a school project that required her to write things about her on a poster board. And this is the child we lovingly call “No. 3.” My wife and I refer to our kids in the most inappropriate way: in the order of which they are liked. I am only kidding! It’s the order in which they were born. Kai, our oldest is No. 2, Azure No. 3 and our youngest, Ari No. 4. No. 1 is my firstborn, my dog who passed away nearly two years ago, Roy.
Anyway, one of those things that No. 3 had to write on her poster board was “My Hero.” And she wrote “My Daddy.” It stole my heart. Then it scared me on several levels. My first reaction was, “Are you crazy, little girl?!” I am but a man… a flawed man… a very flawed man… and barely a man at that. I realize that I’m 36… uhh, I mean almost 30. But, I still see myself as a very young, inexperienced, confused man who has no business pretending to be a responsible adult, much less being responsible for other human beings.
How have these children not perished under the cruel throes of winter, gotten lost or forgotten at some unknown corner of the CSRA, or starved to death? It genuinely surprises me that I have somehow gotten these kids safely (for the most part) to the ages 12, 9 and 5.
Then, I go on to read the reasons why I’m her hero: “Because he’s experienced many things…” Oh, the things I have experienced. Not exactly, heroic… well, not for a 9-year-old girl, anyway. Maybe for immature college guys… or truckers. If she truly knew half of my life experiences, I’d be quite embarrassed. And she might actually disown me. Or, call the authorities.
I read on… “Because he works very hard to provide for our family.” So sweet of her to say, since I am recently unemployed.
This would make sense to me if I were, say, my dad. Now that guy is and always has been a hero to me. I could always count on my dad for everything. He always has the answer to everything. Or at least, he seems to. My dad was always the end-all be-all, hero of all heroes. Everything that exemplifies the word… hard-working (the type of hard work where he came home filthy, smelling that dad smell: a mixture of dirt, sweat and cigarettes), always knows the right thing to say at the right moment, always gives me the perfect piece of advice for the situation and, most of all, he lived his life in such a way to set an example for me.
In my eyes, my dad could beat up the Incredible Hulk while choke-slamming Iron Man and then strike a match on his own beard stubble to light a victory cigar. I have strived to be everything my dad has been to me to my own kids. For my daughter to say that she considers me to be her hero is unfathomable to me.
In reality, while I am a little overwhelmed by this revelation, it is the highest honor I have ever received. No, I do not have a cape (that you are aware of). No, I don’t run faster than a speeding train, nor do I leap tall buildings. But my daughter doesn’t seem to believe that I need any of these things… or a job…. to be her hero. Of all things I have ever aspired to be, of all the goals I have ever set for myself in this life, this is by far the most fulfilling way I have ever been honored. It’s also the honor of which I am most proud.