Captain America and the Incredible Hulk

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I haven’t talked too much about my two little boys.  I like to think of them as my little super heroes in training.  (This, of course, makes me an awesome kick-butt girl version of Professor Xavior… Just sayin’.)

My 14 month old is big for his age, and curious, rambunctious, fearless, rough, and frankly, pretty much downright reckless at all times.  I didn’t know what it meant to “baby proof” my home until he came  on the scene.  He’s full of sweetness, but he’s just a bulldozer of a kid paired with an assertive nature that makes him pretty hard to keep under control.  We’ll just call him Bruce.  As in Bruce Banner.  The Incredible Hulk.

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And this little heart throb is my oldest.  He turns four in the spring.  He’s sensitive, gentle, a bit worrisome at times.  He’s loving, trusting, and completely obsessed with Pixar’s Cars movies.  All things I think are probably typical of most 3 year old boys, but he did something the other day that really gave me pause.

From a very young age, he’s been terrified of animals.  We’ve never been able to trace this fear to a particular event.  We know he’s been really sensitive to loud sounds, so a dog barking or a bird squawking could have triggered this panic he feels around our furry friends.  But really, it’s just theories.  To give you a glimpse:  This weekend we took him to a Christmas party at a home he was less familiar with, and he just would not be calm about it until we double and triple reassured him there would be no puppies or kitties there.   So you get it right?  He doesn’t like animals.

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Last week, we were visiting my niece’s house, and she’s got ferrets.  She’s incredibly respectful of his fears, but about 15 minutes before time to leave, we decided it would be okay to try bringing one of them out.  Baby Bruce was delighted.  He’ll terrorize any furry creature he thinks he can catch with his teeth!  But as she held her pet, I could tell my oldest was trying his best to hold it together.  When she put this (unprecedentedly docile) creature down on the floor, I could see the panic striking.  His bottom lip started to quiver, his eyes welled up with tears, he grasped my hand tightly and looked into my eyes…

Then he said, “Hold Baby Bruce!!!  Pick up Baby BRUCE!!!”

That’s right.  Faced with his biggest fear.  His little heart pounding.  His first concern was for his little baby brother.  It wasn’t until I picked Bruce up that he sought out shelter from the ferret for himself.  And I almost cried.

This all kind of happened in the midst of a trying time for us.  Once we put our oldest in preschool, our attention was called to some notable delays in his speech and social skills.  It’s scary to think of all the things that could mean.  A team from our school district used the term “suspicion of disability” and my heart just stopped.  Although our case is not nearly as serious as what some families go through, it always hurts to think your kid could  find himself with some real social and academic challenges going forward.

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So, with all that in the back of my mind, watching him protect Baby Bruce from the ferret was like watching that scene from Captain America, where poor Steve Rogers is in boot camp with practically every disadvantage.  Here he is, a short, scrawny, sickly guy, surrounded by elite alpha males.  His superiors are all muttering how he doesn’t belong under their breath.  Then, in the middle of a routine drill, Colonel Philips tosses a grenade into their midst.  Of course, it’s a dummy, but the soldiers don’t know that.  They frantically scatter away, except for Steve, who in a self sacrificing move uses his body to cover the grenade while shouting at his comrades to flee for their lives.  It’s totally my favorite scene in the movie, because you realize Steve Rogers didn’t become a super hero when they injected him with experimental P90X serum.  His superpower was always his heart.

So, we’ll call my oldest boy “Steve” here in blog land.  And really, if I can just figure out how to preserve that big, selfless heart to adulthood, then I’m sure he’ll be fit to face any challenges other limitations may bring.  I can’t do all that much to prevent disability of the mind or body with our boys, but if, with God’s help, we can prevent any disability of the heart, well then I’ll call this whole parenting thing a great success.

Comments are disabled on this particular post… mostly because it’s so dang sappy.  But if you want to talk, you can tweet @macfife, and I might respond if I’m not too busy being awesome and training mutants and stuff.  

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