The hero-less five year old

Popeye rocking
(Photo credit: Travis Nicholson!)

I’m certain I’ve mentioned before that my memory tends to be foggy going back to my childhood; but what I haven’t mentioned before is that I remember when my memory “switched on.” Coincidentally, I was about five years old at the time and we got HBO piped right into the living room television at our suburban Detroit home. When the guy finished installing it, he cranked the television’s VHF dial over to channel five and I sat down to watch Popeye – the movie, that is. Popeye was a hero of sorts, with his spinach-eating, muscle-growing ways; one wonders what kind of anabolic steroids they laced those spinach cans with in the 1950’s. But I wasn’t so enamored with him that I would look up to him as a role model.

Vintage Ad #563: Where to Turn for Sports in D...
Vintage Ad #563: Where to Turn for Sports in Detroit (Photo credit: jbcurio)

That year was an awesome year for the Detroit Tigers; Sparky Anderson and some of the best baseball players of the day, including Lou Whitaker, Kirk Gibson, Lance Parrish, and Alan Trammell took the team all the way to second in the league. I remember watching a lot of baseball at home that year, but nobody had told me I was supposed to have a hero, somebody to look up to and try to emulate, so I guess I didn’t know any better, and thus not a single Tiger made the cut.

Because what is a hero anyway? I mentioned role models, people we look up to, that we emulate, whose accomplishments we aspire to achieve in our own lives. Is that a hero? Because if so, I don’t think I had one when I was five. I wasn’t concerned so much with being like anyone else, I was more concerned with my five year-old pursuits: watching this on TV, playing with that toy, trying to avoid punishment when I did something that made my Mom angry.

What do you think? What happens when kids don’t have heroes or don’t know that they should want to be something more than what they already are? In what directions do you think their lives would go?

This post was prompted by the Daily Post prompt of 10JAN2014. I didn’t get a chance to finish it until just now, so I’m dropping the issue and moving on with my life.

107 other responses have been posted so far:

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  1. Thanks for the pingback to transformingmommy. Your post brought me back to the 1984 Tigers :). I was 7 years old at the time. I also grew up in the metro Detroit area and one of the big highlights of that year was getting to go “downtown” for a game with my grandparents. I still have the pennant and signed Alan Trammel ball they gave me after the Tigers won the series that year.

    As for your question, I don’t think a 5-year old not having a hero is necessarily a bad thing. I think it can be a sign of a child who is so comfortable in their own skin, that they don’t feel like they need to aspire to being someone else :).

      • I actually grew up south of Flint, but all my grandparents were in Dearborn. Lived in Southfield and Birmingham for a time as an adult. We hit Ferndale a lot for food. Great food scene there in recent years 🙂

        • Oh heck yeah! I’m in Bismarck ND now, and you know what I miss? Thai food, period. The Chinese take out place on 9 Mile, Honk Kong One. Como’s for Italian. Hambo’s Coney Island. Ferndale was awesome for food.

  2. Interesting question, Rob. I wonder if it confers some distinct, and long-lasting, advantages upon the growing child: the ability to see people for who they are, rather than putting them upon pedestals – and a healthy self-image because they are who they are and that’s great. Perhaps we have an inbuilt need to look up – to gods, heroes, film stars and so forth.
    Children brought up in a way that freed them from the oppression of such things?! Wow! What a thought!

  3. I don’t remember having heroes either. I was otherwise occupied. I was madly in love with Steve Reeves who played Hercules and the Thief Of Bagdad, and the tenor-guy who played Tom-Tom the Piper’s Son in March of the Wooden Soldiers, whether or not they count as heroes. I didn’t want to be them, I just really liked looking at them. As I got older I had ideas of what i wanted to be that didn’t fall into place until I was much older than that original older. When I might have done those things I was raising kids and becoming involved with types of employment so I could support them. So… after all that, after no heroes, raising kids, going to back to school way older and piecing my life together into a whole and a direction, I’d say what happens is……………….. we take a crack at writing and have a lot of fun doing it keeping our fingers crossed, except when we’re typing, that something cool comes of it. 🙂

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