Figuring out life in a flash

Sherri Gardner HowellFarragut, Kitchen Table Talk

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be Wonder Woman. A passionate comic book reader who preferred superheroes over Archie, I thought Wonder Woman was way cooler than Supergirl.

And that magic lasso! Everybody had to tell the truth when the lasso got ahold of you.

Supergirl had more powers, of course, but I still preferred Wonder Woman.

Last weekend, Flash stole Wonder Woman’s heart and offered some playground wisdom to all who would listen.

My Nashville grandson, King, loves superheroes just like his Gigi did. He also loves dressing up in costumes, so his closet is full of capes, masks, jumpsuits and superhero weapons. I never know which hero will be the flavor of the day. Last weekend, Batman came to play, followed by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Raphael, Black Panther and Mickey Mouse. Then, when we got ready to go to the neighborhood playground, Flash appeared.

Afraid King would get too hot in his Flash costume, I tried in vain to talk him out of it. “I don’t think there are any bad guys on the playground,” I told him.

“Yes, there are,” he answered.

“How do you know?” I questioned.

“Because I bring the bad guys with me in my imagination,” King explained. “I’m taking them to the playground.”

With that, Flash and Gigi set out for the playground.

Flash (aka King Howell) at the playground

It was hot and most of the kids had opted for the pool, but King, ahem, Flash, was happy running around the playground, showing Gigi his super-speed. There were two older boys sitting on the monkey bars, probably taking a break from the basketball game going on at the court outside the playground. Flash had a few words with them, telling them his name was Barry Allen when he wasn’t Flash.

When a young boy about King’s age appeared, he was mesmerized by this pint-sized Flash. He immediately joined King in the play, and the two of them went about keeping the playground safe.

At one point, the young friend asked Flash if he had a superhero friend. “Like Batman has Robin,” he explained.

No, was Flash’s answer. “I just get all the bad guys by myself, but you can help me today. You can be my brother.”

“Let’s get those big boys to be bad guys,” the new friend suggested. “Then we can chase them.”

Probably deducing that the 12-year-olds were not going to join in the Flash storyline, King/Flash again said, No. “We can just pretend the bad guys. I have them in my imagination.”

The new friend still had a few questions. “What are my super powers if I’m your brother? What if I am the bad guy? What super powers do the bad guys in Flash have?”

Flash stood at the top of the slide and sorted out all the questions with 4-year-old logic:

“You don’t have any superpowers. You are just my brother. And you are not a bad guy because you are my BROTHER.

“You know,” he continued, “not everybody can be a superhero, but that doesn’t mean they are bad guys. Now let’s play.”

Brother-of-Flash seemed pacified with that logic, or at least with the suggestion that they get on with the playing part, and Flash and Brother resumed their speedy tour of the playground, finding bad guys behind the hedges and under the slides.

The philosophy stuck with Gigi, however. I think it will be good to remember that not everybody can be a superhero, but that doesn’t mean they are bad guys.

And sometimes, unfortunately, we bring the bad guys with us in our imaginations.

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