My sons are obsessed with superhero costumes. They love them all. If there is a cape or a mask my boys are all over it. The irony is they've never seen a superhero movie or TV show (outside those random Lego shows on Netflix.
I bought my boys a TON of superhero costumes day after Halloween and made a little dress up set for them for Christmas. It was a hit.
But they're more than just superhero costumes. Last year one of my sons was diagnosed with a handful of different skin conditions. One of them requires that he undergo treatments every three weeks. Every three weeks like clockwork we show back up at the dermatologist for more.
In the grand scheme of all the illnesses a child could be diagnosed with it's mild. It's not life-threatening, it's not affecting his immune system, it's not leaving him with permanent scarring. But it can't go untreated and the treatments hurt and my son dreads it.
So I've used his love of superheroes as a reminder to be brave. I tell him how Tony Stark got hurt and invented Iron Man. Or that Steve Rogers was little and scared but still became Captain America.
So we show up to the dermatologist appointments in different superhero t-shirts. He tells the staff "today I am brave like Tony Stark." Or "today I am brave like Iron Man." One day I hope he just says "today I am brave..."
I realize fictional superheroes aren't the only examples of bravery I could use, and they're not, but they're the ones he seems to connect with the most.
I've told him that bravery isn't the absence of fear, it's facing something big or painful in spite of fear.
If that's a concept my preschooler can grasp, so can I. So can you. What's the big scary thing you're facing in 2017? What's the dream you've put off because it frightens you? Do it anyway. Face that fear. Put on a superhero costume and run head first into it. And if you've got a little sidekick or two to keep a hand on your shoulder, that's a bonus.