The Family Secret

Time reveals the effect your words have on others.  As I spent the day with Ella, my nearly seven-year-old granddaughter whose picture is above, she let me in on how my words had affected her.  It all started many years ago, before Ella was even thought of.

When I was a young mother, I tried to find ways to encourage the kids to respect their dad.  Kids are so oblivious to all fathers do for them; it helps to point things out.  One night as we finished our dinner I told the kids they had to remain at the table because it was time to tell them the family secret.  They were alive with anticipation (or were they complaining because they wanted to go outside and play, either way they were a captive audience).

I glanced at my husband at the other end of the table and then I began, “Kids, you are about to hear something so incredible you may not believe it, so before I tell you, you must promise never to tell anyone what you are about to hear.”

They promised and then I told them, “Your father is Superman.”

They had disbelief in their eyes, but I explained how they never see their dad and Superman in the same place.  Dad wears glasses.  He likes to help people.  I went on and on about him, but I don’t think they really believed me.  Since I never cracked a smile and was not in the habit of lying to them, it gave them something to think about.

Flash forward to Father’s Day this year.  We had all of our children and our six grandchildren over and I felt it was time for the grandkids to know the truth about their “Bumpa.”

I brought a wrapped present to the table.  Bob opened it and revealed a Superman coffee mug.  With that on display I said, “Kids, I think you’re old enough now to handle our family secret.”  I made them raise their right hands and promise never to divulge this to anyone.  The kids being 9, 6, 5, 4, and 3 (we didn’t make the two-month-old raise her hand) were happy to comply.  I poured it on good, and their wide eyes revealed that they believed every word.  I explained how it only looks like Bumpa is going to play golf or working.  Often times he is out saving people.

Bob (Bumpa) just sat there receiving their admiration.  They asked him questions and he told them just like he told our children, you never see me and Superman together.  Now you know why.

I had no idea how seriously these words were taken.  My daughter Dena informed me that her kids were asking if she also had superpowers – it only stood to reason that she would.  She told them they were not ready to know the truth just yet.

So back to Ella.  She was over the other day and asked where Bumpa was.  I told her he was playing golf.  She moved close to me and whispered, “You mean he’s out saving someone, don’t you.”

She thinks about this all the time.  She asked me if I had superpowers and I had to admit that I do not.  “I’m more the Lois Lane type,” I explained.

To top things off, I took Ella to run errands with me recently and she told me, “Grandmom, I almost told our secret!  I came so close, but you’d be proud of me because I didn’t.”

I will never forget that conversation.  I hugged Ella tightly and was tempted to tell her my secret, the one where I made up the whole thing, but I couldn’t bring myself to burst her bubble.  So please, if you see my grandkids, keep my secret safe.  Thank you.

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  1. LOVE this post and how sweet your grand kids are as well as the positive positioning of Bob in their minds – awesome!

  2. I understand the sentiment— but would not approve of same for my children or grandchildren. I want my children to know that life is real and people are just that- people. We may do many good things (and my children have seen me break down a door to grab someone out of a burning house, deal with accident victims on the road, bring food to homeless folks on the street, stop and ask someone who appears lost for what they are seeking, etc.)… but we also make mistakes. And, i want them to recognize that making a mistake is part of life- not to repeat it, but to learn from it. Not to be afraid of trying something new just because they have to be Superman or WonderWoman…

    • You are a great example of living a life worth emulating, Roy. My kids/grands have witnessed us doing good as mere humans also, though we’ve never rescued someone from a burning house – you are a hero! I think we’ve balanced play with reality, our oldest has brought homeless people home for a shower and fresh clothes, we have had several people live with us for extended periods when their circumstances were not good for them. There have been countless opportunities to serve. Your point is a good one though, and one I’ll have to contemplate. Thanks as always for sharing your thoughts.

  3. Chris Bainbridge

     /  August 21, 2012

    Well these things must run in families – because we always told our kids their father was superman – after all – his name IS Clark!

    • Well of course, I’m sure Clark was suspected of being Superman all of his life. It’s good to have a Superman on each coast; it does lighten his load a bit.

  4. Keeping my mouth shut. (hoping to see the “S” cape sometime…) 🙂 Love your Ella!

    ps – Robert has a blue cape in the closet… It has a big “A” on it. (truly) In our family his secret name is “Agenda Man”.

    • I always think about you when I post about Ella. I think you’re her biggest fan. I love that Robert has a cape. Agenda Man truly must save the day over and over again. I sure hope I get to meet you some day. Thanks for your comments.


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