Raising Superman in a house full of kryptonite
by MATT RYERSON, Editorial Columnist
Jul 17, 2013 | 474 views | 0 0 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Matt
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Matt Ryerson
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I love Superman. Growing up, I always wanted to be Superman.

What wasn’t to like? The guy had super powers, he was indestructible and only had one weakness ... kryptonite. So you can imagine my excitement when the new Superman movie was released this summer. I anticipated this movie as the next version of ME being released ... SuperMatt!

My wife and I scheduled a “date night,” got our tickets, bought the popcorn and soda, and settled into our seats just in time for the previews. Halfway through the movie, it hit me. Sure enough, this movie was about me, but not at all how I had expected. Instead of relating to the title character, for the first time in my life, I was feeling more connected with Pa Kent, Superman’s earthly father.

You see, Pa Kent lived with a certain amount of fear. He wasn’t afraid his son would get hurt, because, well, his son was Superman. He was more afraid that his son would not be accepted. He was afraid that his son would be looked at as “different,” that his son would be shunned by society. In this dark theater, sitting by my beautiful wife, the bright screen with this superhero and his father exposed to me my greatest kryptonite ... fear.

But recently, I have noticed that ever-present fear has grown within me. It is probably because my baby boy has now grown into a young man. I can see characteristics in my son that I love. But I also recognize that he is growing into a world that isn’t as loving or accepting as we are of our own children. People generally don’t see the “endearing” qualities in our children as “cute.”

I recall working in the church nursery one time and seeing this 2-year-old boy using his tongue to lick his runny nose. I handed the child to his mother as she said, “Isn’t he so cute when he does that?”

Since I was actually on the verge of retching, I literally could not say what I actually felt ... which was, “NO! That is GROSS!” But the thought crossed my mind, don’t let me do that to my son, don’t let him be the “gross kid” and me think it is cute.

But that is simply my fear of how the world will view my son. I know how judgmental this world is. I know how unfair and hurtful it can be. I know heartbreak and I know pain, and I just don’t want my son to experience any of that.

I also know that this makes me weak, the same effect that kryptonite had on Superman. It took away all his superpowers. It also makes my son weak. The pain, the challenges and the hurt develop our kids and make children stronger. They make them resilient. They make them overcomers ... they make them super boys and girls.

So I am working to overcome my kryptonite, my fear ... but I still wipe his nose when it is running down his face.

C’mon people, that is just disgusting!

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(Editor’s Note: Matt has a beautiful family: his wife, son, two daughters, Tucker the family dog and nine chickens ... none of whom seem to be impacted by exposure to kryptonite. Matt’s column appears every other Wednesday in the Cleveland Daily Banner.)