‘Foundation 100 Days’ is an event run across Victoria primary schools, celebrating the Foundation (Grade Prep) students’ 100th day of school.
I was lucky enough to attend one of these events, hosted by a local school, who chose to run with a super hero theme. I was surrounded by mini super heroes! There was Batman, Bat Girl, Wonder Woman, Captain America, Superman, Spider Man and Iron Man to name a few.
Those kids looked awesome. They looked strong and powerful. They looked courageous and ready to save – or change(!) the world and this got me thinking. We were all like this once, brave and looking for the next mission or exciting, new quest.
When we were young, we tried everything, did everything. We had no fear.
We climbed trees, ran across logs, jumped in puddles and got covered in mud.
We built cubby houses in those trees, with those logs, over those puddles – and got splinters.
We imagined those trees to be part of a deep, dark forest; the cubby house was our very own castle; the puddle – a moat. We created our own secret club-room, with our own secret handshake and our own secret password – that, if revealed to the enemy (ie. annoying, younger siblings), would mean certain DEATH. Membership reserved for a select few. To join, sign your name here – in BLOOD.
We may not have had the special licensed costumes available to kids these days – we made our own. Our super hero capes were bed sheets and table cloths. We would throw on that long, flowing cape with our gum boots and race around the neighbourhood, pretending we could fly – and some of us believed that we could fly – if we shut our eyes tight enough, imagined long enough and wished hard enough. And we did fly – right off the roof of the neighbour’s shed, breaking one wrist, slicing open one knee, tears streaming down two red cheeks, but somehow, still feeling – ‘accomplished’.
We fell down. We got up. We had adventures. We were always into mischief and always in trouble. We could say what we actually thought and be as silly as we actually felt like being, without the worry that somebody might POST or REPOST, SNAPCHAT, TAG, EMAIL, MESSAGE, SMS, DM, CHAT, FACETIME, CALL or simply SHARE our most vulnerable, personal, intimate moments, with the rest of the world.
We used to be BRAVE. If we did the wrong thing, misbehaved or made a mistake, the worst we would have to deal with, is whatever consequences would be dished out by mum or dad when we got home – if they found out! The world was our oyster, and nothing was going to stop us.
Then it happened. I’m not sure exactly when, or why, or how. But one day, that cape, ‘suddenly’, felt too silly to put on. We didn’t want to get our shoes wet or muddy. We avoided making mistakes, getting into mischief, getting in trouble, out of fear of getting embarrassed or hurt, or disappointing others. We stopped trying anything new, stopped taking risks, stopped going on adventures.
So where did our super heroes go? Where did mine go?
I’ve looked everywhere.
Somewhere along the line, we learned that we had to be – sensible. We grew up. We became afraid of making mistakes and taking risks was now associated with irresponsibility. Fun and games are for children only and imagination is an unnecessary indulgence. There are no more adventures.
I watched in awe and with joy, as these little kids strutted around in their costumes, striking their super hero poses, being silly, running around, pretending to fly. Without fear of embarrassment, being hurt or judged. They were just being their awesome selves.
So maybe it’s time we searched for those missing super heroes that we lost so long ago… Maybe it’s time for us to get a little uncomfortable, to shake things up a bit, have a little fun, be a bit silly, take a chance on something – just for the sake of it, do that one thing that you’ve always wanted to do, learn something new and completely unnecessary, stand up for yourself – and somebody else, be bold and unafraid.
Maybe it’s time we looked at ourselves in the mirror and asked the question that my kids ask me nearly every day: “Which super power do you wish you had?”
“If no one else will defend the world, then I must.” – Wonder Woman