Monday, October 6, 2008

From Robin to Nightwing: A Not-So-Misplaced Childhood

You almost want to pity poor Robin, the Boy Wonder.

Though he got famous by being Batman's sidekick, it must have been doubly hard for him to leave and become his own man, to forge his own identity.

His costume has gone through some 5-6 changes as far as I can tell and the current one doesn't do a lot for me. Still, it is another step in the right direction. I do like the name.

I wonder what it would be like, growing up under a grim vigilante, always 'on mission', never getting a break from it, never really getting a chance to grieve over his parents death, and never having a normal childhood.

I mean, your foster dad is Batman! Think on that for a second. You never get a chance to just ignore the world's villainy: "Hey, Bruce - can we get out - maybe go to the circus?" "Good thinking, Robin! The Joker must be hidden there!" "Uhmmmm - that's not what I was thinking..."

To be fair, though, Bruce and Alfred treated him well. He turned out differently than Batman - less obsessive, better adjusted, more able to work and socialize with others. He is a better leader than Batman (see Teen Titans) and a better acrobat, due to his earlier training. He's no slouch in crime fighting.

But still you pity him for the loss and being called to urban warfare so early in life.

That's a little like one of Jesus' ancestors - King David. And Samuel, the priest who anointed him to be the next king - he too was called out as a small boy. John the Baptist was called from his mother's womb. So was Jeremiah.

I wonder, is a "missed" or "misplaced" childhood normal for heroes?

Do you remember that scene in Its a Wonderful Life, where George Bailey is having his last meal with his dad, and explains how he wants to get out of the town? He's given Harry his job to do, just as he did. His father says "Harry's awfully young for that job, George." George replies, "He's no younger than I was when I did it!"

"Well - you were born older, George."

"What's that?"

"I said, 'You were born older.'"

You see, some of us know how to take on responsibility at age 8. Some at 10. Others at 18. Others - ehhh, not until they have children adn get serious. But Mr. Bailey is right: George was born older than his brother. He was born with a greater maturity in his soul.

Bruce Wayne did not begin to fight crime until he left college and returned to become Batman.

Dick Grayson began fighting crime when he was eight years old.

Guess who is actually more mature? Guess who has less fears and anxieties?

Robin did not lose his childhood to an obsessive vigilante. He was sent to help him. Oh sure, I know the editorial reasons, etc. - the 'real world' reasons.

But pick it apart using a Divine Perspective. Have you ever noticed how children can keep a clearer head than adults at times? How they can teach their elders right from wrong?

I guess what I saying - what I am learning is that I did not lose so much of my childhood as I imagined. I just got tested earlier; I had to accept loss earlier than most. Thankfully, in Christ, I can be stronger and wiser than my father or my grandfather.

I was taught scripture at an early age. I was caring for a woman dying of cancer at the age of 17. We were poor, but never looked it. I owned two pairs of jeans and one pair of sneakers for four years. I can live on next to nothing with few friends, no business allies and no specific job for years.

So when I look at what I do not have according to the 'normal' pattern of the world, I must also see what I have according to God's sovereign providence.

That kills the self pity. And that brings us back to our featured hero.

Don't pity Dick Grayson. He was raised by a billionnaire, had an exciting childhood, currently leads one of the most powerful supergroups in the world and is friends with nearly every superhero in the DC Universe. We tend to forget that part of the equation.

"You know Superman?"

"Sure. I know all the Justice League."

So do you dear saint, after a fashion. If you are in Christ, you are on par with the greatest saints in history. Jesus is your elder brother, and you know all His "super" friends. ;)

They are listed in the Bible -and in history.

Keep that in mind. You are not a 'sidekick'. You are a hero.

Amen.

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