The littlest member of our household likes to dream big.
He often dresses like a superhero. We’ll find him near his toy bin, carefully pulling his new Iron Man gloves, elbow and knee pads over his Spiderman costume. It’s painstaking work for preschool fingers to navigate but, in this particular project, he is very patient and he knows exactly what he is doing.
When he is finally ready, he jumps on his tricycle and heads out to take on the world.
“I am super fast,” he says. “I am super strong.”
Early yesterday morning he made his way past a woman we did not know walking a dog we didn’t recognize.
“You make me smile,” she told him, which offended him a little.
“I’m Iron Man,” he said, and sat up a little taller in his seat.
From the top of his Iron Man helmet, to the tips of his Spider Man shoes, the little guy is a fierce champion of the values he holds dear.
“Thanks for protecting the neighborhood!” someone once yelled out a car window at him.
“You’re welcome!” he replied with a confident wave.
This weekend, he happened by one of those Foster Homes Needed signs you see everywhere and I took a picture. It occurred to me that he and all the other kids who become part of the foster care system are the real heroes of it.
They land in homes they don’t recognize, sleep in rooms where floorboards creak and unfamiliar light peaks around strange curtains and they venture out into neighborhoods where, at first, they don’t know a soul.
And they all do the absolute best they can.
We know a young man who has lived through unimaginable tragedy and still his default mood is joy. Another broke our hearts with his optimism every morning as he ran into school no matter how difficult the previous day had been.
“Imagine how brave you’d have to be to stick your chin up and head right back in there every day,” I used to say.
I admire them all.
How privileged we are to care for these young heroes, despite the unique challenges they present.
I can promise you they make us smile every day.
(Just don’t tell Ironman that).