He stood in the middle of the room with his cape flapping in the wind of the ceiling fan, and his keen senses surveying the scene.

Super Connor was on duty. His head shot up when a presence filled the room, an enemy’s consistent breath, and tail wag, as she moved across the floor, and an “oomph” as she plopped down in the center of the couch.

And when she looked up from licking herself — their eyes met.

They battled each other in the living room, and then hours later cuddled on the couch at naptime. They chased one another through the house and then shared lunch (Connor had a habit of sneaking Alpo until he was 5.) A 3-year-old superhero and his drooling, canine, nemesis — it was an endearing relationship.

I don’t think our boxer, Sadie Jo, ever understood herself to be the bad guy. Considering all she withstood, her title fell under best friend.

Sweet Sadie Jo crossed the rainbow bridge about four years ago and Super Connor just turned 15. His suit and cape went into the donation pile long ago. But the bad guys are still out there, and they don’t fight living room battles.

My little superhero (that's what he'll always be to me) daily enters a world where good and evil aren’t so easy to separate, and I am doing my best to teach him how to know the difference.

As he grows taller and his steps take him farther, I know that might soon face all the things I want to shield him from. Some of them, he already has.

When he is the target of the laughter in the school hallway.

When a friend offers him something that all the cool kids are doing.

When his convictions become blurred by a society that questions him.

Evil isn’t cut and dry.

Real life is messy, and the gray areas are often wider than the black and white.

As a parent, it is scary to think that my two boys must navigate life and make their own decisions as independence slowly takes root. But for now, I have a window of opportunity that will soon close.

I call them teachable moments, and they mostly happen in the car on our way to school or to marching band for Connor and football practice for Logan. This is the perfect time to talk without distraction — and although Connor later mentioned he kind of wanted to throw himself out of the car on my latest “drugs are bad” speech, I think in reality they are too scared of dying to eject themselves.

Honestly, now at 12 and 15-years old, we talk about mostly everything going on in the world because if they don’t hear it from me then they will definitely hear it all from someone else. I want them to know that it isn’t easy out there, and that life won’t always go their way.

Because no matter how much he wants it to, the world won’t bend to Super Connor’s will - or his 12-year-old brother’s who unwillingly fought under the name Diaper Boy and wishes to remain anonymous.

But none of that means that they can’t still fight for good. In fact, it means it’s ever more important that they do.

They will face rejection. I will teach them to rise under its glare.

They will hear words that stab his heart and cut through their self-esteem. I will teach them that their true value comes as a wonderfully made creation of God.

They will get slapped with injustice — and they will watch others suffer from it too.

I will teach them to fight fair and to stand up for others. Most of all, and despite what society teaches, I want them to know the world doesn’t revolve around them — and honestly, I don’t want it to.

They need to learn humility in this often me-focused society so that when things don’t go their way they aren't thrown into a tailspin.

I also know that my growing superheroes will sometimes make the wrong choice, but I want them to know that they will always be loved by me, and more importantly by God.

No matter what.

Now to work on my husband. He thinks he is Batman.

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