Gideon is having a bit of an identity crisis. It’s as if he fell down and bumped his head one day while he was watching cartoons, and when he woke up his brain was a little mixed up. His memories are half remembered fictions mixed with truth. A comical mistaken identity mix up that can never be explained, because the person having the misunderstanding is the same person that is being misunderstood.
You see, my son has convinced himself he is Superman. Perhaps it can be blamed on Andrea, since she is the one that bought him his superhero underpants. He wasn’t a fan of underpants. So, he cried and threw his Batmans and The Green Lanterns back in the drawer, but when he picked up the red and blue superman underwear, he hesitated. He was still frowning, but he let us put them on him and then walked dejectedly out of the room with his shoulders slumped, but I could tell, he was secretly still admiring his fancy new red pants. At this point he didn’t even know who Superman was. I think he just liked the color, or maybe they reminded him of some distant memory and he had a stirring of destiny in his tiny soul.
But with the success of the underpants, we branched out and bought him a full set of Superman pajamas. He fell in love with them instantly. He somehow knew they made him more powerful. He didn’t want to take them off. In this tight red shirt and blue pants he was invincible. He ran into walls and tumbled down stairs, but it meant nothing, because he had his special pajamas.
So, a week or so ago he was sitting on my lap begging to play a game that I didn’t want to play and I decided that instead I would blow his mind. I loaded up a Superman cartoon.
The music started to play and I felt him tensed up in arms eagerly curious about what was about to happen. The music already making his blood move faster through his little body. Then, suddenly a man came flying across the screen, and wouldn’t you know it, he was wearing Gideon’s pajamas. The little boy immediately began bobbing up and down on my leg and poked violently at the screen with his greasy finger. “Me! Me Daddy!” he shrieked.
The man swung his arms and punched a muscle bound bad guy through a wall, then he tore the jaw off of a robotic dinosaur. I looked down at my son. There, reflected in his dinner plate sized eyes I could see the Man of Steel rushing through buildings and flying under bridges. The boy pointed again, slower this time, completely bewildered, “…me.”
And it must have been some time after that when he hit his head and the transformation took place, because now I have a little boy that runs circles around the house in red and blue pajamas pretending to fly proudly proclaiming that he is “Superman” (although, it’s also possible, given his language skills, that he believes he is “Soup Man”.) My computer screen is covered in smudged finger prints. Every time Superman shows up in the scene (I let him watch a new episode every few days) “Me! Me Superman. Me! Superman Me!” Then Clark Kent comes on. “Me?” he asks, and I say “Yes. Superman.” and he nods, “Superman. Me Superman.”
I’ve never really been a fan of super heroes myself. I was a G.I.Joe fan. I liked the regular guy that is able to overcome enemies using intelligence, friendship, and love (and sometimes grenades). Now, I find myself raising Superman. It’s a terrible burden. I really don’t feel up to the task at all. I sometimes think it would have been better for his mother and I to leave him in his crashed spaceship out in the corn field that night, so someone else more worth than I am could have discovered him and raised him to save the world.