He’s slower than a tortoise, scrawnier than a Williamsburg hipster and, even if he tried to leap a tall building in a single bound, his feet would barely leave the ground. Yet my 2 1/2-year-old son, Jackson, appears convinced he’s some sort of superhero these days.
I’m not sure where this latest obsession comes from. I don’t own a single comic book, have never seen an “Avengers” movie and for most of my life thought all the DC Comics took place in our nation’s capital.
My son, on the other hand, has begun to incorporate capes into his everyday attire.
If I were to pinpoint the root of this latest fixation, I’d have to go back to last year, when my in-laws bought him a pair of Batman pajamas. When we’d put them on him, we’d hum the theme song from the 1960s television show, drawing a bit of a chuckle from the boy. After a few weeks of this, he’d shout “Batman!” each time we got to the end.
Soon enough, Jack had a few sets of Batman pajamas in his wardrobe — including feeties, long pants and shorts — all of which have him fully prepared for a slumber party no matter the weather in Gotham City that evening.
Hardly a fashionista myself, I’ve nevertheless always enjoyed choosing Jack’s outfits in the morning. And ever since he started talking, he’s liked to offer input.
Lately, though, I get the same response each day.
“I wanna wear my Batmans,” he says. Yes, the pluralization of that word was intentional, as in his Batman socks, T-shirt, sweatshirt, vest and hat — an ensemble he’d prefer to wear Monday through Sunday. The kid even has a Batman tattoo that I’m not even convinced is temporary at this point.
Knowing he got a kick out of these few things, my in-laws and others soon began purchasing even more superhero items. There’s the Spider-Man T-shirt, the Marvel children’s book, the Incredible Hulk action figure — the list goes on. He even sports an Iron Man cape, something Tony Stark himself has never been spotted in.
Despite Jack’s growing collection of superhero items, he’s struggling to understand the abilities, allegiances and mythology behind each of these characters. Instead, he’s created his own comic book world.
“Joker is not a bad guy,” he likes to say to me, getting more frustrated each time I try to explain to him the difference between a hero and a villain.
“I want to fly like Batman,” is another one of his go-to sayings, even if it’s not the least bit accurate.
Still, there are some basic guidelines he likes to follow. The other day he wore a Batman mask with a Superman cape, but when I called him Superbatman, he replied, “No, I’m Superman and Batman, no Superbatman,” as if my suggestion of a hybrid superhero was completely out of line.
As cute as this all is, I have to admit it can be a bit tiring, especially for his mother, who spends each night peeling superhero stickers off every window, mirror and table the lad could get his mitts on that day.
At the risk of alienating certain readers — especially Paul Squire, my colleague and go-to source for all things nerdy to quite-nerdy — I really do hope this is just a phase for my little guy. I pray he eventually trades in his plush Thor hammer for a tool that will help him find a mate or personal income. And, yes, I do lie awake at night praying he won’t become one of those grown men in a Deadpool costume riding the Ronkonkoma line on his way to a convention in New York City.
I recognize all this could soon be a problem for his baby sister, too. While Jack spent this past weekend fantasizing about the planet Krypton, Nora was spending her first days on Earth. And while ordinarily that sweet little 7 pound, 1 ounce bundle of joy would have been the center of attention for our visitors, it was kind of hard to ignore that someone else in the room was wearing a cape.
Now here we are a week later and instead of penning a column about my newborn child, I’m churning out yet another one about Jack.
Of course, when he wasn’t playing dress-up and jumping off furniture, Jack did spend the past few days doting on his sister.
As I got dressed for work Monday, I noticed him standing by her bassinet, a grin across his face.
“My little sister,” he said, pointing to her as he looked up at me.
Baby Nora might have her work cut out for her trying to capture the spotlight in our household, but at least she has a superhero watching over her.
The author is the executive editor of Times Review Media Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.