A few weeks ago, Tiarnan, five and Fintan, seven, were having a play acted "fight".
Now, as long term readers will know, Tiarnan is one of the world's youngest "superheroes". He has a liking for imagining himself as some kind of super powered hero and can quite often be found, in his own world, happily playing out some imaginary scenario. Such is his imagination, that he is quite capable of playing out such a scene, alone, accompanied only by his own imaginary adversaries.
On this particular day, he was having a battle with Fintan. To judge the situation, there is something you should know about Fintan: he is very strong for his age, and quite big, too. He is also dextrous, fast, and athletic to the point of being gymnastic. In other words, "fighting" him, is not a good prospect, if you are also a kid.
Tiarnan did his best. He engaged Fintan with absolute passion, focus, intensity and determination. Each "blow" was delivered with vigour and a certain style. Not only had Tiarnan's effort needed to be maximal, but each movement had to have a certain elegance and panache about it. With Tiarnan, the result had to be beautiful to watch, too.
Fintan defended himself, with relative ease. He also counter attacked in a less deliberately stylish manner, which managed to impress nevertheless. There was something masterful about his movements - and Tiarnan was simply unable to best him.
Tiarnan continued to strive his best to win this battle of the mini-Titans. However, he seemed to be becoming aware of the mismatch. This was inconvenient for his superhero self-image, since it was quite impossible for superhero Tiarnan to be beaten by a mere mortal older brother.
He had an explanation and solution, however.
"My powers," he began to announce, most intently, "only work, when I use them."
This declaration was meant, not only for Fintan, who didn't trouble himself to respond - but for his mother who was watching.
Fintan went on to win the encounter, pretty conclusively - but Tiarnan was not disheartened. He had, after all, and rather gentlemanly, elected not to use his powers - so the defeat was actually a demonstration of magnanimous nature.
The play fight came to an end happily. Neither was hurt physically, or psychologically - and both egos remained intact: Fintan's because he had won, Tiarnan's because, of course, he had only let him win!
There is something appealing in Tiarnan's rationalization of his physical power in relation to Fintan. It is actually quite beautiful to see him conceive this excuse and understanding - and to hold on to it, to the extent of seeming to believe in it, at least emotionally. His is the perfect way of seeing the world if you are a small boy - as he is - who wants to feel powerful - as he does.
In Tiarnan's world, he is powerful - and, in a way, he is: for his imagination is such that he is quite able to convince himself that he is such.
I, for one, watching him play, am quite prepared to accept him on his own terms - for he is so intent about it, that to do so, is the only reasonable and fair response.
So, Tiarnan is the superhero of the house, who is so considerate of his brothers that he refrains from using his powers against them. They, in turn, refrain from pointing out that he doesn't have any. It is the ideal arrangement.
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Labels: childhood imagination, creativity in childhood, In the eyes of a child, living in an imaginary world, self-belief, Superhero, Tiarnan Hasyl Cawley