As I sped out of the parking lot of our store in Hanover, I realized I had a major parental decision to make. Sitting next to me was Robbie, our ten-year-old. On his way out of the store, he’d grabbed two lollipops from the jar on the counter. Now, he was contentedly sucking on both at the same time. Two white lollipop sticks were protruding from his mouth like fangs.
Just before turning onto busy Washington Street, I stopped. Should I take a right or a left?
A right would take him to CCD, his religious education class at our local parish. He’d be five minutes late, but he’d probably get a good dollop of the Ten Commandments. A left turn would take him to soccer practice where he’d be fifteen minutes early.
Either way, I needed to make a speedy decision. His brother’s soccer game at the high school had already started, and I wanted to catch the second half. I glanced over at Robbie who seemed oblivious to my dilemma.
That rambunctious redhead had already put in six hours of hard labor in the classroom. Then, he’d spent an hour hanging around our store while his parents attended to the family business. Now, I could tell, that kid needed to run. Don’t judge me harshly, God, but we’re going to take a pass on spiritual enlightenment in favor of kicking a ball around a field.
Decision made: soccer practice.
As I peeled off to the left, Robbie beamed, gleefully aware he’d dodged a dreary hour of moral instruction in the church basement. I recall that feeling. I suddenly remembered riding my bike to the five-and-dime with my pal, Patrick, where we’d pick up a pack of gum and some trading cards. On the way back, we’d argue over who would win the battle of titans, Superman or Batman.
“Robbie,” I said impulsively. “Superman or Batman?”
Robbie rolled his eyes dismissively. “Dad,” he said. “Superman’s dead. Batman killed him.” I was shocked and, in a way, devastated. I had no idea the great debate had been resolved. I’d always rooted for Superman. Robbie hammered another nail in the superhero coffin. “Batman used Kryptonite,” he added.
Then, Robbie lobbed a question back at me. “Dad,” he said, “Iron Man or Captain America?”
I was stumped. With all the responsibilities of running a business and raising a family, I’d lost touch with the world of superheros. “Robbie,” I admitted, “I haven’t a clue.”
If I had super powers, I’d give almost anything for one more day as a ten-year-old. Robbie, I thought, as he leaped out of the car, enjoy every minute.