Heroes Don’t Always Wear Capes


Upstairs, with the door closed, a set of markers and a pad of paper. That is where my eight-year old daughter goes to find privacy. Privacy from her two-year old brother who can adore and infuriate her, all within a span of thirty seconds. Her privacy is always short-lived though, because he will search the entire house until he finds her.

You see, she is his hero and she doesn’t even know it.

He watches her every move. He imitates her. Sometimes for better and sometimes for worse. She is the one that comes to his rescue when Mommy and Daddy need a break. She is his “sidekick” when he goes to fight the “bad guys”. Or, maybe he is hers. I haven’t quite figured that one out yet. Either way, they are a formidable duo when properly motivated.

But sometimes, when she loses her temper. When she gets angry at him. When she is human. I tell her to remember that “she is his mirror”. Whatever he sees in her will be reflected back to him, and he will do the same. He looks up to her whether she likes it or not. It is a lot for an eight year old to fully digest, but I think she gets it.

And then I think, do I always get it?

Do we?

Those of us that are leaders in our classroom, our school, or our district. Do we realize that each and every decision we make is being carefully observed by those that we lead? Do we realize that the way that we react to stress, to problems, to life, is being reflected and imitated? How do we want that to look?

I believe that we must be the type of leaders that show people that we are not perfect, because then they will see it is okay for them to make mistakes. We must be the type of leaders that show others that solutions are not found right away, because then they won’t be so hard on themselves when they’re stuck. We must be the type of leaders that show that treating people well always comes first, because then they will attempt to do the same.

“Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.”   Albert Schweitzer

I can tell you at the end of the day, when my son goes to fight the “bad guys” he doesn’t take his superman action figure and he doesn’t take his pretend light saber. He takes his imperfect, sometimes cranky, eight-year old sister.

And, you know what? That is just fine.

And you know what else? They always win!

They win because they have each other. They win because they help each other to be a little bit better than they were yesterday.

My son has already learned an important life lesson.

He has learned that heroes don’t always wear capes …

bailey and derek skins

but they do hold hands!

1 Comment »

  1. I love this. As the oldest child, I always remember my mom telling me how much my two little sisters looked up to me. As a kid, I hated it! Why did I always have to be the responsible one? Was it really my job to teach them how to behave? Now that I am older, I realize you don’t always have a choice in the matter. Leaders are often born, not made. Even though some would not consider my job in school as a “leadership position,” I know there are teachers, and more importantly, students, looking to me for guidance. Like it or not, we are, as you say, “mirrors,” to those around us. That is why it is so important to live with heart and integrity – choosing patience over frustration, optimism over pessimism, and connections over isolation.

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