When you ask people about heroes you truly get an array of answers. Many people will respond with those who are personal heroes such as Abraham Lincoln, Dr. King or Helen Keller. Other answers could tend to be more civic minded such as members of our armed forces, police and fire fighters. Depending upon what is popular at the box office you many also hear such characters as Superman, Captain American and X-Men. A final group of answers may include those Greek Heroes we all had to learn about such as Hercules, Achilles and Theseus. Well my son Patrick recently tried to gain hero status all on his own.
Now mind you Patrick is almost 18. This means, for those of you not fortunate enough to have parented a teenage boy that his way is the only true way and basically he believes he’s indestructible. As I'm writing this I have to tell you that just two nights ago we signed his early enlistment papers into the USMC Reserves. While I am super proud after you finish reading about his "moment of heroic glory" as he calls it you'll understand why my stomach is still a bit tense with his choice.
This summer we learned that Patrick does well in a crisis situation. He was in a car accident with Emily and her best friend. While the girls were flipping out Patrick took control, called parents and 911, and then tended to the girls. It wasn't until the adults arrived on the scene did the reality of how close they had come to being seriously injured even hit him. As a parent it is comforting to know that your child will rise to the occasion. HOWEVER......
Patrick came bursting (literally bursting) through the door announcing "Wait until you hear what I did at school today you're going to be so proud!” I'm thinking he scored 100 on a test, was selected for an award, things like that. This was sooo important he wanted us to sit down at the table so he could share his exciting news.
As told by Patrick:
Today I was almost a hero. We were getting ready to start 6th period and all of a sudden I heard someone scream not like you hear on TV but a real I'm getting stabbed scream. We all ran to the door as the screaming continued. I saw a couple of teachers run through the hall and the first thing I thought was "there's a shooter I have to take him down". I went running out of the classroom to find the shooter. I knew I could take him down if I could find him. The other classrooms had their doors closed so I kept running. What actually happened is a girl somehow twisted her knee in such a way the bone broke the skin. Aren't you proud that I was going to take care of the situation? I was going to be a hero!
The first words out of his Dad’s mouth were you dumb ass!!! What are you trying to get yourself killed?
My first words were "where was the teacher that let you run out of a classroom? Followed by are you crazy? You could have been killed!
What followed for the next 30 minutes was one of the most frustratingly entertaining conversations I think I've ever had. Patrick couldn't understand why our first reaction wasn't that of pride. We couldn't understand why he thought he could take down someone with a gun. He went on to explain that he felt he had to step up and take control of the situation. We explained that's what the other adults~ teachers are there for. He asked did we want him to be a wuss and not help out. No, we replied instead of running out to danger you could have made sure your class was following the danger protocol that you have practiced since Columbine and taken the lead that way. That job was the teacher's he insisted plus they had a sub that was 80 years old and didn't know what to do. You should be proud of me I could have been a hero.
This is where the entertainment begins. Mind you Patrick had spent the rest of the afternoon playing this in his head and had clearly thought the whole thing out. Did I mention he's almost 18 and therefore pretty egocentric? He actually went on to share with us how he saw the situation unfolding:
Once I found the shooter I was going to distract him then tackle him down. I'd remove his weapon just in case he has someone else working with him I could protect myself and others. Once this was all done I'd be declared the hero of my high school. They'd have a parade. I'd probably receive scholarships and get to meet people like the Governor and maybe the President. Of course I would be on the news. They might even have a statue of me outside the school.
Feeling it my duty to rain on his parade I pointed out that chances are if there was a shooter things would probably end up quite differently than he had imagined. First off, I asked, what makes you think you are bullet proof? I also wondered what they were learning in NJROTC that made him think he knew how to take a shooter down! He assured me that he "just knew" he'd be able to get to the guy. No matter how hard we tried to get him to understand we didn't want him running in front of bullets he couldn't see things that way. Once he finally conceded that ok maybe just maybe things could turn out bad that would have been ok because he was sacrificing himself for his fellow classmates (yes we lifted our feet b/c you know what was flowing LOL). This possibility brought further realizations of glory. He now knew not only would all of the above honors happen (outside of meeting people because he might be dead) but even more. Oh the ego...
He wants to be buried in his NJROTC uniform w/a soccer ball. He told us where he wants the service to be held, though he thinks a mega church or something along those lines would be required. Should someone consider immortalizing him in song like Michael W Smith did for Cassie Bernall after Colombine he wants his song to be Rap. He named his Pall Bearers and who he would like to speak at his service. What amazed me most is how quickly he came up with all of this oh to have the mind of a teenager again.
Patrick has retold this story to his sisters and others with his glory, of course, increasing with each recitation. I laugh harder every time. He truly believes, despite the derogatory names he’s been called each time, that his champion Miss Jane will stand behind his decision to try to be a hero.
Sincerely I am incredibly proud of Patrick and how brave he is. They say people either have a fight or flight response and quite obviously Patrick’s wired with a fight response. Do I want my son running in front of bullets ~ no of course not. If I’m truthful I’ve not had the most restful sleep since we signed his enlistment papers. I am slightly comforted in the fact that he can’t enlist until his braces come off and at last checkhe still had at least another year. We were told years ago that with his personality Patrick would either wind up leading a gang or as an officer in the military. So I guess I’m lucky he’s chosen this path.
But why does this song keep playing in my head… Billy don't be a hero