Bye bye Spiderman

Man in Spiderman costume

I had a poignant moment this evening with my son. There was an element of sadness in that moment, but also beauty and it was something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

My son has just turned 6. He’s at the age where he’s completely obsessed by Lego and super heroes, and of course Lego Marvel Super Heroes!

I went to an air show with him today; it was one of those affairs where you pay to get in, and upon entry you are then presented with another layer of commercialism whereby you then have to pay for everything else on top of your entrance fee. However, there were some fantastic things for him to do there, and of course, he had his face painted. He chose Spiderman, one of his favourites.

Time to pretend

He had fun running around in the blistering heat as his favourite superhero (luckily he hasn’t mastered the cheesy wise-cracks yet). At the end of the day when his super hero duties were over, the time had come to remove his mask and become Peter Parker once again.

I grabbed a flannel; we went to the bathroom; I doused the flannel in water as he stood on tip-toes facing the mirror. As I began wiping his face clean he uttered the words “bye, bye, Spiderman”.

Time capsule

This simple, child-like utterance stopped me in my tracks for a second. It was one of those flashback moments that I knew I would come back to when my son was all grown up with a family of his own, and all I’d have left to cherish from his childhood would be memories like this, and several terabytes of disorganised photographs.

That line just summed up something so perfectly for me. It was like a pre-emptive farewell from my son to his own childhood. There will no doubt come a point in his life when dressing up and pretending to be a superhero will have lost its appeal.

And that will be the moment when those three simple words sum up his sentiment on the matter: no more childhood, no more pretend. It will mark the beginning of an exciting new chapter in his life I have no doubt. But it will also mark the end of an era; a period neither of us will ever be able to return to.

Earlier that day at the airshow I’d had a chat with my son about how special childhood was, simply because it was a period of your life you can never get back — once you’re a grown-up, that’s it. You’ll stay that way for the rest of your life.

A vindication

After my son’s unwitting profundity, I asked him whether he was looking forward to becoming an adult. The answer was a resounding “no”, and that response delighted me. My boy told me he was happy being a child, and that in itself was a victory for me to hear.

Despite all the doubts that every parent has about their ability to care and provide for their children (and that I had experienced no less compellingly), it became clear to me in that moment I must be doing something right.

And whether you run a business, have children, or do both, there will be moments when you feel like you haven’t done enough, you’re not doing the right things, or that you’re just not good enough.

You are good enough.

Featured image by Daniel Zedda (Own work) [CC BY 2.0], via Flickr