"Mama, I'm not a superhero."
She confesses it as I'm tucking her into bed at the end of the day, when my patience is at its thinnest.
"My belly's telling me I'm not the fastest runner. Not at the park. Not at school. Not anywhere."
It amazes me how a three year old can experience anxiety in her solar plexus. Her gut is worried that she isn't good enough, that she's not measuring up. How early our insecurities set in.
"You DO have superpowers," I insist. "You can run like the wind. You can dance up a storm. You can sing in a big loud voice."
She's not buying it. She doesn't believe she can be Batgirl anymore. These traits aren't anything special to her. To me, though, they're everything. I don't care that I'm probably not supposed to tell her she's extra-special, or out of the ordinary. I've thrown that parenting rule right out the window, along with a bunch of others.
When your child is predisposed to doubt herself and struggles mightily with self-esteem, you find yourself saying anything to boost them up, to help them bloom.
When she says we have to buy more superpowers, I sigh.
Self-confidence is not something I can purchase for her at the mall. I tell her it's already inside of her. She just needs to find a way to get it out.
But she's not having any of it.
So when she insists that her superpowers are stuck in the ceiling, I make a production out of pulling them down and magically putting them back in her belly. She giggles and I remind her not to let them wiggle out.
Oh, if only I could do this for her for all of her days. But I can't. She's becoming more self-aware, more inclined to judge herself in comparison to her classmates. The other day she said she didn't like her name; she wanted to be called Georgia instead, like the little girl at her school who's super-social.
"Do you know what Wonder Woman's real name is?" I asked her.
She shook her head, but I could sense she knew where this was heading.
"It's Eve. A beautiful name for a strong superhero."
Now when we see Wonder Woman promoted everywhere we go, she gives me a secret smile that says she remembers.
Her identity is safe with me.
The world, in its cruel-but-kind way, will make her forget that she has any superpowers soon enough. It will test her courage and strip her of her golden cape, forcing her to dig deep and find the strength to fly.
For now, I will do everything I can to instil faith and confidence in my girl. Every time she takes off her protective mask and talks openly to our friends and family, I see glimmers of the daring young woman she's bound to become.