Superdude

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I don’t remember this phase as a child, but both my boys have gone (and are going) through extended periods of interest in superheroes.  Thing 1 was into Superman in pre-K and Kindergarten, and then, in First Grade, he became obsessed with Spiderman.  His TV-viewing was pretty controlled (much more than Thing 2’s is – by virtue of living with an older brother), so his interest in these characters was curious.

Some of it had to come from friends’ toys and costumes, but I still couldn’t figure out the attraction. Was it the superpowers?  The flying? The web spinning?  So one Halloween as we were putting together another superhero costume, I asked Thing 1, “Why do you like  Spiderman so much?”

He was silent for a minute and then said, very seriously, “Because he saves people.”

Now six years later, Thing2 is in his superhero phase (like many of his male classmates), and I hear him express some of the same admiration for a superhero’s altruistic motivation.  But, while Thing2 is always sincere in his desire to help or save people from the bad guys, I have started to believe his alter-ego is working unconciously to save something equally as important as well – his inner superhero.

Always a free-spirit who marches not to his own drummer, but leads his own rhythm section, Thing2 was content to wear his inherited Superman and Spiderman costumes in their original form for a few weeks.  But, as his inner monologue evolved, so did the costumes, and I now call the resident savior at Minister Hill ‘SuperDude’.

He still sports the red and blue web-enhanced spidey-suit, but has since acquired a cape and boots and sequined glove (courtesy of a female cousin who has outgrown her dress-ups).  Somedays the uniform includes green goggles, and recently a rainbow wig of tightly-coiled curls has crowned the ensemble.  And with each addition to his costume, SuperDude acquires not only a new superpower – just yesterday I learned he could save all the electricity in the world by turning off a light switch – but his bouncing gait gets more joyous, and his spirit seems to fly a little higher.

There’s a seriousness that seems to overtake a lot kids when they get to grade school.  The change in expectations between Kindergarten and First Grade seems to begin opening their eyes to the sad fact that their carefree existence is not endless.  But when I watch SuperDude skidding around the kitchen table, searching for a new component for his costume, I know he is working very hard to ensure that Thing 2 doesn’t lose the ability to fly and leap and soar – if not through the air, at least through his own life.

2 thoughts on “Superdude

  1. Superhero Phase is fun from both angles, child and parent. My sons superheroes were different in the 80’s. Night Rider, The Duke Boys, and Hulk pajamas filled our home back then. I had Vic Morrow of Combat fame(this will require Googling for your readers). I did have the real Superman, in black and white though. It is a phase where boys are more themselves than they will ever be again. They have no other responsibilities in the world other than saving it. Your post was a great tribute to all of us Superheroes, young or old.

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