Superheroes and Stories

‘Into bed, Billy’, we call as we hear little footsteps edging down the corridor towards us.

‘Billy isn’t here, I’m Batman’, comes the returning, sincere shout.

‘Into bed then, Batman’ I manage to say, amidst suppressed giggles from us on the sofa.

‘Ok’, says Batman sweeping back into his room ready for his next adventure.

And so Batman went to sleep – after a few more attempted bedroom escapes and a moment, uncharacteristic for a superhero, of needing his cuddly monkey found and his covers snuggled around him.

I almost feel envious of the ease with which a cape, or even an imagined mask, can change your story if you’re a nearly-three year old boy. In a moment, he is caught up in a rescue mission, a spaceship galaxy adventure or even just an endless running race up and down the garden. All the better if Rufus is swept up into it too, often the one calling the shots and recruiting for the next game.

Rufus’ recruitment, whether for a game or imagined adventure, isn’t restricted to his brother. Often, while at the playground, a game is begun with whoever happens to be swinging, sliding and climbing. Today’s hilarity was a never-ending game of chase with a little boy who seemed willing to be ‘it’ for a surprisingly long time. I got chatting to his mum, and we spent a happy half an hour or so exchanging ‘mumming’ stories and sharing a little of our Covid-contextualised lives. There’s a certain solidarity amongst parents of pre-schoolers, I’m finding, as we share the reality of plentiful precious moments with our little people, alongside long days to fill as we snatch and sift around for ideas and inspiration.

Meeting someone new means filling in the gaps.

When not at the park, when not watching little boys run riot, when not meandering through leafy Glen Ellyn…and as I articulate our story, I’m reminded of the irony of being stuck this side of the Atlantic, when last year we were stuck the other side. I find myself saying that I’m grateful for a home that we’ve had to stay put in for longer than we ever expected. But, also, that I’m sad that that other home – the familiar, ‘drenched in people and places we know’ one – is out of reach right now. As the days slide into each other, and the repetitive but safe routines built around the boys carry us through, I’m content in so many ways and glad for all God has given us. We have so much for which to be thankful.

But then I glance away, and my mind goes to the people I’m missing and I’m suddenly fearful that it will be longer than my heart can countenance before we get to go back.

Living the now, praying into the uncertainties ahead and trusting our mighty, loving God. And sometimes wishing that, with simply a word, I could become a story-changing superhero!

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