Sunday, September 4, 2011

Heroes and Villains

It's early on a Sunday morning.  I stayed up far too late writing and reading.  The kids got up far too early.  I'm gulping coffee like it's air.  The 8 year old is in the corner downloading extreme snowboarding videos.  And the 4 year old?   He's wielding a civil war pistol and Captain America's shield.

"What are you doing buddy?" I ask.

"Playing Capt. America," he answers executing a shoulder roll over the couch pillow.

"Whose the bad guy?"

"The aliens.  And Steve is a Super Soldier and he is the Captain," face plant into the love seat.

"Are you a super soldier?"

"Yeah."  Of course you are buddy.

In Caden's mind he is a super soldier.  For those few moments when I am not snipping at him to clean up/be quiet/quit jumping off the couches, he is super.  By the way, he not only shoots his gun and narrates his story (saying both sets of lines) he hums a soundtrack.

I know, from my perspective 10 times his senior, that heroes and villains aren't always that cut and dry.  The good guys and the bad guys can shift positions sometimes in the same day. 

I know too that he is shaping up to be one of the good guys.  I can see it in the way he gently talks to every baby and toddler in a half mile radius.  I can see it when he will spontaneously say, "Fank you Mommy for taking us to the park!"  He's a good guy when he reluctantly listens when he would rather rebel. 

His father and I are starting a consulting business.  Part of it is political consulting.  Politics is full of villains who, with the right marketing and branding, who can become heroes overnight.  Heroes can become villains just as quickly as the pressure and the influence in politics quickly becomes a drug from which there is no recovery. 

I recently saw an interview with former Governor Mark Sandford.  He was a rising star in conservative politics.  Smart, articulate, handsome and with a strong wife and cute sons by his side, he was a hero.  Until disastrous personal choices cost him his marriage, his family and his political career and influence.

To be honest, I hated him.   He betrayed his wife and his children, a nearly unforgivable crime in my book.  He lied to his constituents, another sin.    He was the utmost of villain to me.   My husband, who is my personal hero, suggested/cajoled/bribed me to watch the interview.  He said Sandford could have been President one day if he hadn't blown it with his stupid personal choices.  I reluctantly watched.

What I saw was a man who owned his own mistakes and was working through the consequences from them.  In the interview he protected his family with an impenetrable shield of deflection.  He refused to back down on his sole proprietorship of the mess he found himself in.  He credited faith with getting him on a path to wholeness.  He recognized the reverberations of his actions affect not only his wife but his kids and even his entire state.  In one interview he went from Villain to Hero.  He showed character when it would gain him nothing.  He took responsibility even when he could never hope to fix it.  He was a grown up swimming in a sea of salacious gossip and innuendo. 

What does a philandering Governor have to do with my four year old being Capt. America?  It's not the strength of his muscles, or the accuracy of his pistol which will make him a hero in my book.   If I can help build that shield of character to be impenetrable to compromise and permeable to humility and accountability, he will be Capt. Caden, a hero. 

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