Archive for April 11th, 2012
You know you’ve done a good job as a parent when your kids reach adulthood and think so much of you that they give you a superhero themed birthday party because that’s how they remember what you did for them. And that’s what my kids did for my birthday yesterday. In fact, my oldest daughter and her husband wanted me to see a movie that reminded them of the way I raised her so badly, that it was the planned feature presentation of our evening together.
They had asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday and I told them I just wanted to do a little thing around the house, and maybe watch a movie with everyone over, since our schedules clash so often these days, and we don’t get many opportunities for that kind of thing anymore. After dinner, presents and cake all themed with superhero imagery my kids arranged for me to see the movie Kick Ass, which I wasn’t very excited about at first, until we started watching it.
My daughters joked about how the father named Big Daddy in the movie trained his 11-year-old daughter Hit Girl how to be an assassin by shooting her with a 9 MM pistol so she’d get used to the pain of being hit with a bullet. Big Daddy did this as part of her assassin training so she wouldn’t be rattled during combat and lose focus.
It’s a running joke in our family that I did similar things not so much with guns, but with bullwhips, and other martial art weapons all during their upbringing for much the same reason, and Big Daddy played by Nicholas Cage embodied almost perfectly the way they remembered me during their childhood.
I wasn’t sure at first if that was a good thing or a bad thing until I saw the way the film played out. I don’t watch many movies these days since my children are all grown up, so this one came and went without me noticing it too much. But it’s one of the favorite movies of my children, because it resonates with them how they now see the world due to the way I raised them.
Many parents would be critical of the way I taught my kids, with a heavy emphasis on self-preservation, large doses of independence and a tank like persistence to resist compromise. And they are successfully functioning in the world currently and aren’t radical isolationists. Quite the opposite, they have a lot of friends who seek their time and attention. They are hardly crazed lunatics. But they feel an obligation to justice and doing what’s right and good in the world, and don’t shy away from those tasks.
The reason for this is actually the theme of the movie Kick Ass. The lead character asks, “Why do millions of people like superheroes, but nobody becomes one? You’d think that someone would try?” So the lead character decides to become a superhero and through so doing, becomes a legend that creates a loyal following. His life expands dramatically for the better because of his decision as he becomes the vehicle that many people needed to find their own inner courage.
That is the lesson of the movie Kick Ass, and in a way why my kids wanted me to see it. It was their way of thanking me for teaching them to be leaders, to not wait for someone else to tell them it’s OK to act, but to have the inner confidence to just act on their own initiative. It makes them proud to know that when they watch movies like Kick Ass, that it’s not just entertainment from the realm of fantasy for them, but is actually reflective of the values I’ve given them.
The movie ends with a very over-the-top tribute to all the great serials and spaghetti westerns I showed them in their youth, but unlike other kids and their dads who just turned off the TV and did something else we actually went out in the back yard and practiced those skills to apply in real life if need be.
We always got a lot of sidelong looks from people who would wonder why we seemed to always prepare for battle because we lived in suburban neighborhoods and such preparations seemed radical. They just didn’t see the need. I would get asked all the time, “Why do you wear camouflage pants, and heavy boots everywhere you go. Its 100 degrees outside, aren’t you hot?”
My answer was, “No I’m not hot. I wear boots everywhere because you never know when you might need to kick in a window, or climb over a fence, and I like to have a little armor on my legs and feet for those occasions.”
That is usually when the conversation would end. But what those people didn’t know was that two or three times a year, I would do just those very things on occasion. You see, the world is full of bullies, thieves, and con artists, and they are always looking to pray on the weak. And when I see it, I put a stop to it or at a minimum address it.
People ask me what my family thinks of all the controversial activities I find myself involved in and the answer was obvious in the type of presents they bought me, and the way they prepared my birthday party, with a superhero theme. I can’t think of a nicer thing to give me than their understanding and the evidence that they have learned what I sought out to teach them. They could easily complain that their dad is one of the most hated personalities in all of Cincinnati, but they don’t, because they know that the hatred comes from the same types of factions who hated Big Daddy in Kick Ass. And they let me know that they are as loyal to me now as young adults as they were when they were the age of Hit Girl. And that is the best gift I could receive for a birthday.
The reason more people don’t become superheroes, like it was asked in the movie Kick Ass is because it’s hard. Most everyone dreams of becoming one, but few people embrace the mentality to commit their entire lives to the act of fighting for justice. I taught my girls that they didn’t have to have special powers to be superheroes, just superhuman will, and a desire to never become complacent. As I watched Kick Ass I was very proud to know that my two daughters reminded me of Hit Girl especially at the end as she avenged her father Big Daddy in the film. It’s good to know who has my back and that they are prepared to do whatever it takes to live out their commitment to justice.
What a wonderful birthday!
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