I am raising a child with autism, another with brain integration issues, and a third that’s gifted. Sometimes I envy Doctor Octopus (Spiderman’s nemesis). It might be nice to have a few more arms.
The truth is we all have a superpower. For some of us, circumstances are thrust upon us, our extraordinary abilities awaken, and we rise to the occasion. For others, this skill is developed over time. It could be associated with our jobs, our families, our hobbies, or our talents.
Even kids have superpowers: My 15-year-old son’s superpower is electronic gadgetry. He abandoned his sippy-cup for a mouse at 18-months. He has absolutely no fear of anything that links him to the internet superhighway (unlike his grandmother who thinks cellphones are actually for receiving phone calls).
My nine-year-old’s superpower comes from her Dad’s genes—boundless energy. Think of a cross between Tinkerbell and the Energizer Bunny.
My 11-year-old’s superpower is personal discipline. What other middle schooler do you know who rises before 6am—I have to threaten her with extra chores to make her stay in bed longer—so she can complete some of her homeschool work and practice her violin before hopping the public school bus for PE and Orchestra? God help the business world when she figures out how unlimited her possibilities are outside of Minecraft.
As for parents, raising a Special Needs (SN) Child is a superpower that unfortunately some reject or ignore. It’s like Green Lantern before he stepped up to the plate. They think of their SN children as the Xmen’s Rogue who sucks the life-force out of anyone she touches or The Hulk who trashes everything within hands’ reach.
But these kids are superheroes themselves. Like Daredevil, many live their daily lives with enhanced senses so out of control, it’s not uncommon to see them fall to the tiled Walmart floor howling in pain at the cacophony of humming fluorescent lights, squeaking shopping carts, beeping cash registers, swishing deli slicers, and the clomp-clomp-clomp of hundreds of feet.
You’d think with how rapidly they escape a restraining hold or scramble across a room out of your reach, our wondrous SN offspring had somehow developed Spidey-senses. The truth is they’d probably give just about anything to have Matt Murdock’s lead-lined soundproof water tank just to get one night of peaceful sleep.
For those parents who have embraced their superpower, it can be a love-hate relationship. Like Bruce Banner, we would gladly give it up. We would gladly let someone else carry the torch, or the volcanic body weight of the Fantastic Four’s Ben Grimm. But we were chosen for a purpose other than weekdays at the dance studio or Saturday afternoons at the athletic field. (Not that there’s anything wrong with either of those because corralling a dozen four-year-olds in ballet or soccer could actually be your superpower.)
Some superpowers can be used for good. Others are used for selfish gain (these two diametrically opposed forces are what the entire comic book sub-culture is founded on!). The worst superpowers are those that are left to decay.
So what about you? What’s your superpower? Have you claimed it? If you’re the parent of an SN child, take courage. You don’t have to look far.
Special thanks to Shirley Aponte for sending me the image above that inspired this blog post.