Until they find out that they’re not. Life teaches them, teaches us, what we are capable of and it is our choice to believe it. My now four-year old son used to “fly” everywhere. He was constantly offering to use this power for good—“would you like me to fly up there and fix that light?” “Do you want me to fly to the roof and get that ball?” One day he offered to fly to the moon, and I encouraged him to do it, and he just stood there with his arms outstretched, fists pointed towards the sky, with this look of determination, mixed with confusion. I was witnessing the exact moment when he realized he couldn’t really fly. At first I was heartbroken, but then I decided, not today. Today is not the day he stops flying. So we decided the reason he couldn’t fly was because, of course, he needed a cape.
As we grow, we learn things about our capabilities, about our situations that slowly clip our wings— or at least, teach us to hide them under our jackets. I feel that my job as a parent is to help my children overcome any and all obstacles they encounter. I want to help them discover who they are, and how to find their own happiness. I want to help them find and develop their superpowers. I admit, this is a struggle for me sometimes. With all of the daily chaos, it is often more desirable to strive for order above all. But I always believe in my children. I completely believe they can be any wonderful, crazy thing they want to be.
My son with Down syndrome had a different experience. Instead of being born believing he can fly, and finding the weight of reality, he was born into a world that expected him to do very little, and found that he can soar. When people find out my son has Down syndrome, they usually give us words of sympathy, and expect very little from him. This feels like the right thing to do, to express pity, and celebrate even his smallest achievement, however, this does him no favors. We should speak power into our children, and expect power out of them. By power, I mean kindness, creativity, critical thinking, determination, justice. These are the types of powers that anyone, everyone can have, and will hopefully get them far.
I want my children to be superheroes. I applaud them when they are ninjas, cowboys, firefighters, and rock stars. I even wrote them a book where they use their real-life talents to be a part of super adventures. I never want them to forget how it feels to fly. The world has enough victims, and more than enough villains. We need more heroes.