I’ve been reading romance since I was in middle school. This means I know all about romance heroes—or thought I did, at any rate. Alphas. Betas. Betas that become Alphas when their loved ones are in danger. Alphas that become Betas when they fall in love. The guys that are in between and/or uncategorizeable. (Is that a word?)
Then I met The Biscuit. Or rather, I birthed The Biscuit. As I embarked on the wonderful, terrifying, baffling journey that is raising a boy-child, I started to think about what I wanted to teach him, only to discover he was teaching me. There is nothing guarded about him, so what he thinks tumbles from his lips the moment it enters his brain. I was exposed to the fascinating world of the male brain without all the social pressures to muddy it up, and I realized I was seeing all the best qualities of a romance hero—albeit a pint-sized version:
1. Romance heroes are supportive. The hero wants to help. In The Biscuit’s case, it’s little hands trying to carry too-big grocery bags. Little feet running beside me as he gets ready to catch whatever I’m balancing. Romance heroes are the same. Ultimately, they support their heroine through whatever trouble she’s in or quest she finds herself on, whether that assistance requires bashing some bad guy heads together or holding her when she cries—or even better, standing back so she can bash some heads together.
2. Romance heroes are protective. I’ve had the privilege of watching my Biscuit take care of our new kitten. It’s amazing the things he thinks of without being told, such as guarding the front door so the kitten can’t get out. Or remembering to close off the basement when his mother forgets so the kitten doesn’t get lost down there. And, bless him, making sure the new kitten doesn’t chew/play/ruin/hide in anything important. A good romance hero is innately protective of anything smaller or weaker, which is one of the vulnerabilities we particularly love about them. There’s nothing quite so enjoyable about seeing an alpha male with the hidden soft spot.
3. Romance heroes don’t like to be told what to do. A five-year-old’s stubbornness is equal to any alpha male. Or beta male. Or, really, any male. The best romance heroes have their own method of doing things. He has a plan. A mental map that cannot be modified. Now, my kindergartner’s mental plan can be modified with the introduction of a toy car and/or superhero figurine. Not so a romance hero. He stubbornly sticks to his plan—which of course, the heroine throws a wrench into, as any good heroine does.
4. Romance heroes hurt, but pretend they don’t. This is the most important lesson I’ve learned as a mom. Even my small, small boy will make light of a hurt. Yes, sometimes he’s hurt and angry and pitches the temper tantrum to end all tantrums. But the real hurts, the ones that don’t get better by shouting or stomping, those he doesn’t talk about until I discover him crying himself to sleep. A romance hero’s heart is much more profound than it seems. He hurts. Deeply. It’s because he feels so much that he can’t share the hurt until he finds just the right woman. Until then, there’s a thick, strong wall hiding his hurts from the world.
5. Romance heroes love the girl. That’s it. There is nothing more important. A good romance hero loves the girl for every virtue, every fault and all the ordinary things that make up daily life. The love is unconditional, which in my mind makes it all the more delicate. Right now in the Biscuit’s life, that girl is still me, and I’m grateful for it.
So there you go. Five things my kindergartener taught me about romance heroes. Of course, he’s just barely a kindergartener now. He’s “stepped up” to first grade and gets to go to the elementary school with the big kids in a few weeks instead of the early childhood center.
That’s a whole ‘nother ball game, and a whole ‘nother learning curve for this mom. I wonder what he will teach me next year?
IN BED WITH A SPY
THE SMUGGLER WORE SILK