The mighty cape

A couple weeks ago, I bought my daughter a $3 cape. And it was the best investment I’ve made in awhile.

When Rory wears the cape, she transforms. Seriously.

It started with her just wearing it when she was watching Frozen (yep, she’s still obsessed). The cape served as an aid to get her into character as Queen Elsa. She mimics her. She knows the words to the songs (or, at least the 2-year old gibberish version of them) and Elsa’s dramatic gestures.

But now, the cape goes where she goes. And when it’s on her back, she carries herself, not as just another toddler, but as a superhero. Sure, sometimes she says how she’s Elsa or even Batman (yep, Daddy’s little Dark Knight…ress), but most of the time, she’s just an elevated version of herself with that thing on.

The other day, Alex, my wife, went to drop her off at preschool. The day before, she’d left her cape there (it was hell trying to find a makeshift stand-in cape that evening). As Alex was walking her in, Rory was being clingy and standoffish to the other kids. But when they walked over and got the cape from her locker, Rory’s eyes lit up. She was possessed with power and vigor. Her posture immediately straightened before she blew Alex a kiss and waved goodbye, knowing that whatever dragons she may face that day, she’d be fine now that her superpowers were intact.

I’m envious of her when she’s wearing her cape. She flies around, spinning and whirling the cape around her — the ultimate power move. Sometimes she covers her face with it, a’la Dracula, to give off an air of mystery and intrigue.

Maybe more of us should wear capes. What would the world be like if we did? Bar fights sure would be more dramatic. But it’s hard to hang your head low while you’re rocking a cape. It’s damn near impossible to be a smaller version of yourself while you float around in a cape.

Sure, you can look at the cape as just a piece of stupid-looking fabric. But to Rory, it imbues her with superpowers that are very real. That piece of fabric is a talisman that acts as a catalyst to a whole new outlook for her.

This is a very special age for Rory. It’s right before the age were she allows the words of others to make her shrink from and disbelieve her superpowers. One day, some kid will ask her why she’s wearing that stupid cape. And she’ll likely hang her head in shame before removing the cape, wadding it up, and putting it aside — her superpowers gone forever.

I hope I can prevent this. I hope I can convince her to keep wearing that cape with pride in the face of the little shits who try to knock the wind out of her sails. But that’s probably not realistic.

What I’d settle for, though, is to have her understand that those superpowers are still a part of her, even when the cape is resting on the shelf. Sure, having the talisman intact helps. It gives her a physical reminder of what lies within. And for this reason, it’s extremely powerful. But I want her to know that the superpowers remain even when the talisman is gone.

I wish I could rock a cape like her. Okay, that’s a stretch. I’ve long been socialized and beaten into flaccid submission from years of life among other humans. But if I could just move like she does when she’s wearing that cape, wow, what a badass I’d be. If I could make my eyes light up like that and fly around as if saving the world is just something I do…

That’s the stuff I want to tap into.

She’s napping right now. This thing’s a little tight.

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