I was surprised at how upset I got when my five year-old son told me that he didn’t have super x-ray vision.
It wasn’t because I wanted him to have a different superpower, it was because at pre-school playtime, another child chose that power for him. And he wanted something else. I started to go down the road of, “In this family, we pick our own superpowers. We don’t let others tell us what they are,” but realized his bedtime-snuggle-conversation with me wasn’t about making him wrong or feel badly, it was more about me listening to what he had to say. But this conversation made me think for days.
I hated that some other person (relax mom, another growing and developing young child) told my son what his strength would be when he wanted it to be something else. Albeit a school game, I thought back to instances in my own life where people arbitrarily decided they were the leader and I followed without question, or when I was pigeon-holed into a strength or weakness I didn’t choose on my own.
I always loved reading and English in high school, and struggled with math and science. The C+ I had in pre-algebra lowered my GPA so that I was ineligible for Honors English the next year, despite having an A in English class itself. This started an internal mindset trend in me that I was good at one thing, yet bad at another; and even the A grade I had, wasn’t good enough to get into the Honors class I longed for. So I sort of started thinking I wasn’t a great student and academically shut down a little bit.
I thought I needed a teacher or mentor to break these rules and advocate for me, but what I really needed was the confidence to move past it and excel in areas in which I knew I was not just proficient, but I was good.
I had to pick my own power.
School is over and when you have young kids, you experience some of these lessons again through them. With work and life now, I believe that it is so important for us to hold onto what we are good at, what makes us unique, and what makes us shine. These things are touchstones to who we are, and it is up to us to decide for ourselves what they will be, whether personality characteristics, talents, or even dreams we are on our way of fulfilling. We mustn’t let that C+ in pre-algebra affect something else in our life that we know to be true and choose to be dormant.
I haven’t heard anything lately about which superpower my son wants the most, it seems like that game has lost its luster on the playground. But what I have heard, is that he likes being a lion at school, a lion is his favorite animal, and to me...
that’s the best and most powerful thing.
Celine Mactaggart is the founder of 24 East, the East Bay’s first lifestyle blog. She loves stories of people collaborating to support each other, getting behind the scenes of daily life, and anything to do with the indomitable California spirit of creating your own path. She is a writer, has a master’s degree in nonprofit administration, and is a mother of three children age 5 and under.