Somewhere along the way I lost my imagination. For days, I have been sitting here at my computer, trying to type an essay that describes a belief that shapes how I understand my self-concept. Everything I write sounds cliché. I scrapped five drafts, none of which conceptualize who I am today. The drafts are honest depictions of self-concepts, yet dishonest in the fact that I no longer exclusively identify with them. Those drafted depictions are merely fragments of my current self-concept.
All in the meantime my 3-year-old and 4-year-old sons have been screaming, running in circles, and repeatedly saying, ”Look, Dad… Dad. Dad! Dad, look at me!” Puzzle pieces lay scattered all over the floor. My four-year-old is playing Nintendo. He laid down the game controller, turned his head, looked at me and asked, “Hey Batman, can we get a new bat cave?”
“Bub, I’m trying to do my homework,” I said.
“I’m not Bub,” he said, “I am Superman.”
“Dad, this paper has a star on it,” my 3-year-old son says as he waves it in my face, “Hey, Dad. How do you count backwards?”
This entire essay is a conversation that I am attempting to have with myself, a intrapersonal conversation. Though I am thinking, organizing my thoughts is a challenging process. I cannot conceptualize anything at this moment. This is parenthood and I am Batman. I wear a mask. I play the roles that I have chosen, accordingly. How I interact with the people and environment around me dictates my self-concept.
My four-year-old is standing at the top of the stairs, practicing karate moves. My three-year-old has just dumped a container of matchbox cars on top of the puzzle pieces. I suppose I will close the laptop, take off my Student mask, put on my Dad mask and clean up all of this chaos, eventually. I‘m trying to apply the concepts that I learned in this week’s material to myself but instead I am focusing on how my children are conceptualizing their ideas of self. Am I messing them up? After all, I decided to go back to school so that I may offer them a better future, but the ways that I engage them, as a parent, will effect how they view themselves and the world.
I am wearing the Dad mask, or is it the Student mask? I am helping them to count backwards; Teacher mask. Tonight I will head into work and put on the Hair Stylist mask and engage in conversation with clients. We will tell tales of the many masks that people wear. The more masks that I attempt to juggle, the more time I spend in my head, holding conversations with myself, and the lonelier I feel.
“Hey Batman, can I have some strawberry milk,” my son asked.
“Yes, Superman,” I reply.
“Batman, we have to save Gotham City!” he exclaimed, “Will you play with me?”
Imitation is the greatest form of flattery. The world’s a stage. Everyone’s an actor. Humans start off as babies, learning to walk. They copy what they see. At first they crawl. Then they stand up. They fall, but get back up. They fake it till they make it. I am a collage of the people who inspire me. When you get lost in the masks, the theater of life no longer entertains. At my core, behind all of the masks I wear, is a child who wants to play. I’ll put on that mask. Gotham needs me. I am Batman.