This weekend I dropped my eldest son off at Boy Scout camp for the first time. He’ll be gone for a week.
Prior to leaving, I hadn’t really thought about it much, but I know the boy had been. I asked him how he was feeling.
“Good,” he said.
“Nervous?” I asked.
“A lot,” he replied.
I smiled, ruffled his hair a little and told him he’d be just fine. I don’t know if it eased any of his worries. I hope it did.
Later, when it was time for me to leave him at camp, it hit me.
That feeling in your gut. It was then I knew how the boy was feeling leading up to that moment.
As he was about to walk off with his troop to start his week away, I pulled him close.
“I love you, son,” I said and kissed him on his forehead.
“Love you too,” he said and joined his group.
For everyone not familiar with the Batman storyline, Dick Grayson became Robin after his mother and father were killed by a mob boss.
Bruce Wayne took him in as his ward and trained him to become his crime-fighting sidekick Robin.
Eventually, Dick grew up and at seventeen, decided he needed to be his own man. After a discussion with Superman, Grayson choose the moniker Nightwing and left the shadow of the bat.
There’s a big difference between my relationship with my son and Bruce Wayne’s relationship to Dick Grayson.
Their relationship was strained. Bruce and Dick felt at odds with each other. There’s back story that deals with Bruce lying to Dick about his parents’s murderer being dead, but that’s not important.
My relationship with my son is good.
He’s just growing up. And that’s difficult to accept sometimes.
So how do you do it?
You do it by knowing you’ve done everything you can to train your Robin to take on the Joker, or Two-Face, or Killer Croc.
You can’t stop him from becoming a man, but you can do your best to make him a good man.
Take time now, while you can, to teach your Robin about the core values that make a superhero. Teach them about things like integrity.
My son will tell you, integrity is doing what is right when no one is looking.
How? Because I trained him. I didn’t just punish him. If he did something wrong, there was something to learn and I took the time to teach him what it was.
Why was what he did wrong? What was right? And how do you know the difference?
My son knows there’s nothing wrong with being scared, because without fear there can be no courage.
Over the years, I’ve tried to take the time to train him to be a super-hero and not a super-villain, because I knew if I didn’t, something else would.
So while it saddens me to see him walk away, I feel confident in who he is.
He’s still Robin, but with everyday that passes, he gets a little closer to being Nightwing.
And someday, hopefully not too soon, he’ll replace me as Batman.
Until that day, I’m not going to stop training him.
How do you train your sidekicks to become heroes? Let’s talk about it in the comments and I’ll explore more subjects on the proper raising of heroes in future posts on Mondays at PJ Lifestyle.