This would have made a nice Mothers Day post, but today is when it comes to my mind.
Like a lot of things I’ve stumbled into in my life , I never really knew how to be a good parent (see name of blog). Oh, I had a grasp on some basics, and certainly leaned heavily on what psychology I’d learned, but, honestly, I never felt completely comfortable in my readiness to be a dad. I love my kids immensely, though, and I totally loved the times we had together. I tried hard, like I guess most of us do, to do the right things to make sure they were happy.
My own parents were my models, of course. Mom especially, since Dad was gone a lot. She made sure my sisters and I had tons of good and interesting experiences which filled our days as kids and provided possibilities for our futures. I did Cub Scouts, my sisters played softball and went to Brownie camp; we took lots of trips to libraries, went swimming at the awesome pools on the army bases, visited zoos and gardens. What meant the most to me, though, and was therefore what I wanted to do most with my children, was the participation in all sorts of cultural experiences: plays, movies, symphonic concerts, events at the library, museums, and bookstores.
If you’re thinking that makes me sound like such a nerd, wait until you read this next bit.
The greatest single event Mom took me to, the one that stands out as a testament of her motherly love, was taking me to hear and meet Stan Lee. In the nearly unimaginable chance you don’t know, Stan Lee was the chief editor for Marvel Comics. He co-created The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Hulk, X-Men, and a ton of other superheroes. For a young comic book nerd like me, I couldn’t imagine a bigger celebrity.
Stan Lee was speaking at one of the nearby colleges (at this time I can’t remember which), and Mom found out about it somehow. I was probably 9 or 10 years old. I’d never been to hear an author speak, but I was more than excited about the chance to actually see Stan “the Man” Lee! I remember sitting in the auditorium enthralled, clutching my well-read copy of Origins of Marvel Comics in my lap. I even worked up the courage to ask some question (I’ve completely forgotten what it might have been) during the Q & A, and afterward joined the multitude in the autograph line. Stan signed my Origins; I had it open to the page next to the reprint of Amazing Fantasy #15, Spider-Man’s first appearance. Stan asked me why this page, and I recall letting him know Spider-Man was my favorite of his characters. What a great day.
I think about that experience frequently. Not only was it a terrific opportunity for me, meeting a personal hero, but I’ve always appreciated it for the gift it was from my mom. If she hadn’t told me, after already making plans, I probably never would have known Stan Lee had ever come to town, and would have lived a perfectly good life anyway. She could have done all sorts of other, more self-satisfying things that day. Even then I thought Mom was making some kind of sacrifice sitting through hours of what for her, I imagined, must have been sort of uninteresting jabbering about kidstuff.
So I wonder now if my kids have any event similar to this, on which they look back and think, “wow, that was really cool.” I sure hope so.