Friday, May 01, 2015

Iron Man and Connor

My son, Connor, has a brilliant mind. I mean, it’s intimidating. I’m just saying that we should all be grateful he has decided to use his powers for good.

Case in point, he’s only 13 years old, but he made this.

I KNOW, RIGHT?! You know what I made when I was 13? Farts. That’s about it.

Connor is what they call in the biz "a pretty big Marvel fan." I mean, the year the first Avengers movie came out? That year at Thanksgiving dinner, when we went around the table saying what we were grateful for, Connor said, “Joss Whedon.”

So, always jockeying for the position of Coolest Dad, I told my older kids that I would get tickets to an advanced screening of the new Avengers movie. And we went last night.

Three weeks ago Connor got it in his mind that he would build his own Iron Man outfit, from scratch. He began hoarding cardboard, plastic, weird parts of stuff I was sure I had thrown away and asked him not to dig out of the trash ... etc. He used his own money for LED lights, and he asked me to buy him some spray paint. And during this time, he’s been down in the basement whenever he has spare time.

So, here’s how last night played out.

Me: Ok, guys! We need to go! Get in the car!
Connor: Dad, I need to get dressed first. In my Iron Man outfit.
Me: Uhm... you’re going to be uncomfortable sitting in it.
Connor: I won’t wear it in the movie.
Me: Why wear it?
Connor: You can take a picture of me in front of the giant poster, and ... you know ... maybe other people will want to take a picture with me, too. And then I’ll go and change into my Tony Stark shirt for the movie.
Me: Uhmmm....ok. [I sneak off to talk to Katie.]

Me: So, Connor is going to wear his Iron Man outfit to the movie.
Katie: Sweet. He’s worked really hard on it.
Me: Yep, I know. I just ... I’m a little worried about his expectations ... of, like, how he thinks the public is going to receive him. Like, I think he believes strangers are going to want to take photos with him.
Katie: You’ll handle it just fine.
Me: Really? Because if people don’t love it, it’s going to hurt his feelings. And then I’m left with a deflated teenager. And that hurts my feelings. And I realize this isn’t about me. But kind of I’m not up for watching our son be sad.

We pull up to the theater. We get out of the car, and Garren, my 15 year old, starts dressing Connor in his Iron Man get-up. A few people walk by on their way to the theater and mumble, “Cool suit.”

“Whew,” I think. Someone acknowledged him. That’s all he needed.

Then Connor says, “Abbie. Light me up.” He spreads his arms away from his chest, and Abbie walks towards him. “You have to peel off the Pringles cap and turn on the LED light.”

Then we start walking towards the theater - and Oh. My. Goodness. Cars are stopping and taking photos. People are looking out the windows of neighboring stores and, getting all animated-like, hitting their friends and pointing at Connor.

The closer we get to the theater, the more reaction he is getting. Then we get inside, and the place is all abuzz. Theater employees are snapping photos - groups of people are grabbing Connor and asking him to jump in their photos that they’re taking in front of the poster. Including a group with a  Thor and a Captain America. Couples on dates are asking him to take photos with them. People are asking him how he made it and making a huge fuss over him. Two security guards finally walk up, lean into me and say, “That’s the best one we’ve ever seen.”

Thank you, Provo, Utah! Thank you for making my son’s night. Thank you for validating this 13-year old’s hours of work and ingenuity and moxie to actually head out in public and put his efforts on display. I salute you.

Sidebar: I am equally proud of my son, Garren. Garren spent hours with Connor, supporting him in this work, talking Connor off the ledge when things were going south, cheerleading him when things were going well. And last night? Garren asked for no recognition, no attention, no reward. He loved watching his brother have a moment. I love these two. I am grateful to be their dad.