At my age, I never expected to be playing Spiderman and Batman again. But when you take on a 5 year old, you take the whole package. And I never want Tobey to be the kid who didn’t get to experience some aspect of his childhood because his “dad” was too old. So, this morning when we were playing on the floor, Tobey handed me a Spiderman mask and said, “You be Spiderman. I’ll be Batman.” So, I was Spiderman… which mostly involved wrestling on the floor in a kid-sized mask the was about as comfortable as putting my head in a vise.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Spiderman. I enjoyed the reboot of the movies a few years ago (although I skipped the “Amazing Spiderman” reboot of the reboot). I even liked the way he was handled in the Avengers franchise. I just never pictured myself in the role. While I try to stay active by riding a bike, running, and working out five or six days a week, I’m not exactly superhero athletic. I’ve got a middle aged spread that seems to be outpacing my activity level, and I don’t run as fast as I used to when I set my half-marathon PR. But that doesn’t seem to keep Tobey from seeing me as whatever he needs me to be at the moment.
That same fault blindness is not shared by all. I teach Tobey’s Sunday School class, and during one morning’s class he referred to me as dad. One of his classmates looked skeptically at him and said, “He can’t be your dad, he’s old!” So much for my superhero ego.
Unfortunately, someday Tobey will also figure out that I am far from Spiderman. It won’t necessarily be because I can’t swing between buildings or otherwise “do whatever a spider can.” No, it will be some other human failure or frailty exposed at the worst possible moment. We all experience them, especially with our kids. Hopefully they aren’t catastrophic to our long term relationship. Hopefully, we can find the strength to admit our failure and ask for forgiveness. And hopefully, we’ve modeled enough of grace that they can practice it, even when the person they most idolize has failed them miserably. Until then, I’ll be Spiderman, and relish in every moment of it.