My kids love Popeye. In fact yesterday, at the behest of my youngest son, I finally succumbed to his constant begging that I buy a can of Popeye brand spinach. I told him it would be yecchy, but he really wanted to try it. (Will let you know how that goes.) Anyway, they also love other old-timey heroes such as Daniel Boone. One of their favorite dvd rentals is the old Fess Parker series. I was discussing this with a librarian one day and she was amazed that any kids these days would go for that old black & white stuff. (Actually, those episodes can be somewhat hair-raising.)
I don't remember watching Daniel Boone as a kid, but somehow I knew about him. I know this because when I play a certain Scarlatti Sonata in E Major that my dad used to play when I was little, I recall that I imagined this song was about Daniel Boone. There is the part that sounds like he is confidently marching through the wilderness, Natives looming, then sections interspersed which sound like his wife pleading, slightly protesting, eclipsed again by his determined hunter-like tones...
As we recently read his biography, I found that it really was somewhat that way. He'd leave his family for extended periods, even putting them in harm's way at times. Now, I'm not trying to malign a great American hero. I'm just saying I'm glad we named my youngest Daniel Frederick after my grandfather, whom I had reason to admire, instead of Daniel Boone--which was a consideration in fitting with his older brother, named John Henry. (Actually, though, John Henry was also the name of another grandfather of mine.)
My hero as a kid was Batman, as in Adam West. And my dad. I love to play that Scarlatti sonata on the piano because he played it. In fact, just about all of the music I love most to play on the piano are songs my dad used to play when I was very young. I don't even know what this music would sound like to me apart from the memories I have attached to it. "It" is a weird term to apply to music. Like, do you ever read old writing where the author refers to a child as "it"?
I have to remind myself sometimes that even though I feel old and dried up about ready to blow away, I am someone really important in the eyes, hearts, and minds of my children. They may not have a mother who's young and fresh with her whole life in front of her...but they need to have their possibilities open to them. If Mom or Dad is not invincible they don't necessarily have to know it right now.
I don't tell them what to think, exactly, but I do play those songs I love on the piano, songs my dad played. And I hope they imagine something meaningful to them, something that will somehow sustain them, or surprise them in the days ahead. I hope it is heroic.