Okay, but who was your favorite Powerpuff Girl? I’m lounging on the bedroom floor filling out paperwork while my friends, mostly ignoring me, play a video game. There is only one correct answer to this, I semi-threaten.
For those unfamiliar with the old cartoon, the Powerpuff Girls are superhero 5-year-olds. Blossom (the red outfit) is the smartest and self-proclaimed leader of the sisters. According to a Powerpuff Girls fandom website, she is “often seen as the most mature, level-headed, and composed member. She can also be fussy, overbearing, vain, and overly analytical.”
Bubbles (blue) is “the Joy and the Laughter; the emotional glue of the trio.” Bubbles can be “overemotional, despite having a habit to be ditzy, naive, and sensitive, leading her to sometimes be regarded as the weakest link. She can be quite prone to tears.”
Buttercup (green) is referred to in the theme song as “the toughest fighter.” She’s easily enraged. “Her aggression sometimes gets the better of her, making her a little reckless and stubborn. She does not plan. She is all action.”
As a child, I was enamored with Buttercup. Like Buttercup, I thought of myself as a tough fighter. I was always chasing my older brothers and the neighborhood kids in a game of Capture the Flag or Ghost in the Graveyard, playing goalie so my best friend next door could practice his hockey skills, and climbing to the top of the tallest trees just to prove I could. I was bullheaded and brave and definitely Buttercup. So as I lounged on my friend's floor, 2 decades later, twirling a pen around my fingers, I thought it would be obvious that the best one was Buttercup.
We all began talking at once, pointing out the merits and characteristics of each character. I think you might be Blossom, my friend tells me. I’m distraught. Okay fine, I relent. I have a little Blossom. But I’m definitely not Bubbles.
I pause, looking at the four mugs of hot chocolate I have just made for the group. Well, maybe I do have a little Bubbles energy, always showing up places like “here’s some cupcakes. It’s a new recipe!!” I pause as a slow realization creeps in “… and I am very easily prone to tears.”
The conversation continues… the strengths of each, their flaws. We talk about our favorite villains from the show and then the conversation moves on. But I am left thinking about what it means to have a little Bubbles energy.
The reason the Powerpuff Girls are such a strong team is because they are a team (and because they’re a carefully crafted children’s television series). But more than that, it’s because they each draw on each other’s strengths and support each other in their weaknesses. Because without Blossom’s planning skills, Buttercup might get in over her head. And without Bubbles’s innocence and genuine care, Blossom might be too stuck in her spreadsheets to see what’s right around her. Without Buttercup’s ability to act quickly, it might be easy for Bubbles to stay stuck in place.
And while 6-year-old Liz might have related to Buttercup’s distaste for party dresses and patience, I recognize now that she’s only a small portion of the (ideally well-rounded) adult I have become. Blossom would love the way I use different colored pens for different categories in my calendar. Bubbles would love the way I allow myself to feel big emotions and keep my heart open. And Buttercup would love the way I’ve kept fighting, never giving up, never letting “the bad guys” win.
So this week, may we embrace the full rainbow of energy we have. May we be stubborn, patient, naive, tough, organized, messy, beautiful little heroes. May we learn to hold space for all of it.