To my kids,
I know you’re not old enough to read this (getting through Spot The Dog is challenge at times).
But I’m writing this all the same.
All parents make promises to their kids. I’m not different. And we do our best to keep them.
Sometimes the hardest promises to keep relate to ourselves rather than others. We want to be healthy for our kids. Not only healthy, but strong.
What does it really mean to be strong? What do fathers and kids associate with strength?
No, not the David Bowie song (although in my opinion it’s the best song of all time). I’m hoping you love Bowie as much as I do (you’ve been indoctrinated with a lot of Bowie when you’ve been playing with LEGO…sorry, you’ll understand when you’re older).
Kids, I’m talking about the kind of heroes that are everywhere these days.
Superman. Thor. Iron Man. From the outside, these are representations of strength in the media that we can admire. Amazingly powerful individuals who can conquer anything. Kids, adults and (I’m guessing) grandparents watch these characters use their physical and mental strength to overcome insurmountable odds. My kids watch these shows and movies. I’ve always watched them. Sometimes I still watch them (Hellboy was awesome and The Dark Knight is a classic).
But this isn’t what strength really is, in real life. A real superhero is someone who admits that they’re weak. That they need help. A superhero is someone who sits down with you for a long chat over coffee when you break up with your first love, or at the footy when you’ve lost your job. Or that person who doesn’t shy away from life’s uncomfortable moments, from doctor’s check-ups to conversations about mental health.
I know it sounds like something from George Orwell that you’ll be studying in high school, but I believe that “weakness is strength”. I should clarify, “acknowledging weakness is strength”, because we’re all perfectly imperfect heroes.