I was 5 years old when the letter appeared in the mailbox. It was addressed to me and stamped “Official Business.”
The specifics of opening the letter are lost in the sands of time but the contents of the letter are not. It was from Spiderman, my hero.
“Thank you so much for your letter and I hope you continue to watch my show.”
Spiderman thanked me for watching his show??? Wow!
“If I am ever in Carroll County I will try to visit your new house,” the webslinger wrote. “I am going to keep your letter in my wallet because it has your address on it.”
Spiderman carries a wallet? Where does he put it?
“Be a good boy for your Mommy and Daddy and a big brother to your sister.”
“Remember that Spiderman does good and prevents evil with the help of his friend, Peter Parker.”
Dude, that is the coolest thing ever! I bet there isn’t another kid in kindergarten who’s gotten a signed letter from Spidey. I can’t wait to show it to them!
Every so often I dig that letter out and read it again. The paper is wilting and the envelope is slowly turning yellow but time cannot dull the effect of the words on the page. It is instant smile territory for me.
I don’t remember exactly when I realized that my father wrote that letter, however it was probably around the time that I saw multiple “Official Business” envelopes from his government job laying around the house. It really didn’t matter and, in a way, it was even cooler because my dad took the time to pretend to be Spiderman and mail me a letter from him. It mattered enough for me to keep that letter for 36 years and to lock it up in my safe.
The letter symbolizes what I want my kids’ childhoods to be about — moments of wonder, heroes, believing in the unbelievable and feeling like they are the most special kids on the planet.
The letter also symbolizes the type of parent I want to be — a parent who pays attention, listen to his kids’ dreams, anticipates their wishes and, with a dose of creativity and a dash of elbow grease, works to make their wishes and dreams a reality.
It took my dad 30 minutes and a few cents to write that letter and affix a stamp to an envelope. But in that short period of time he provided me a blueprint of what the best parenting is — bringing to life a child’s dreams while never letting on that you had anything to do with it.
Spiderman might have been my hero then. But my dad is my hero today.