by Reesa Turner
I’m in love with a superhero.
He’s Batman and Captain America with web-spewing gloves and exaggerated green Hulk smashes using Thor’s plastic hammer. It’s a sometimes forceful exhibition of his super-human strength, tempered at the last second with a finessed gentleness and accompanying sound effects. Watch out when he gets real quiet, and assumes the low crouch, ready to spring into action!
He’s got an ever-growing array of toy figures, but none of them can consistently conquer tiny Spidey…. Maybe it’s because tiny Spidey is more fully articulated than his stiff, straight-legged counterparts. Vision’s name has been adorably altered…and even with increased speech skills, “Binion” has been etched into his joking memory every time I ask to see that white-eyed conglomeration of nanobots. I wonder at the magic of this kids’ mind.
Early learning involved naming every color for the accompanying character. It started with Minions for yellow, Minions, Minions, Minions…..Minions! That quickly escalated into Spiderman for red, Hulk for green, Captain America for blue, “Black Spiderman” (who I’m still not clear on whether he is Venom or not) for black and the Joker for Purple. The actual color name was less important than the correlation to his heroes’ hue.
Cruising through the grocery store, we begin to realize that these super-heroes are everywhere! Product placement for toddlers who are sitting in that cart seat definitely works. Eye-level tunnel visions of consumerism waiting to be discovered. Imagine our surprise last year when he’s naming off characters from assorted canned pastas, or sweet drinks, and peanut butter. Suddenly he points and yells, I want that! A regular can of black beans…because, Black Spiderman! Marvel missed a placement opportunity on that one!
When I’m told that his mannerisms mimic some of my own, a feel a certain longing for children I am now too old and immature to have. I’m happy knowing that I’ve had playtime with lots of kids in my life. Thank you, kiddos (mostly they are now adults)…you’re the best! I witness my little guy aping my tilted head and cocked-eyebrow frowns and expressions, and laughing with his hand over his mouth, as I do. We chuckle as he tells me to stop talking to his NaNa because we have a play date, and this is obviously eating into his time. Jabbering away with him is okay, but leave the NaNa discussion for another time already!
He’s a dynamo who greets me with an exuberant yell, or runs and hides, hoping I will seek. He’ll hold my hand every time we watch movies, and tell me every detail about what exactly is going on in his life or on the screen. He’ll build me a comfy bed on the floor, using every pillow he can find, to help my aching back. He always walks me to my car, even without stopping to put his shoes on. Seeing him gingerly step through the rough rocks, pebbles and stickers while he guides me to my truck and that one last hug and kiss before I drive away gives me joy for days.
His 3-year old grin, and twinkling eyes provide the brightest of beacons, shining a great sense of rescue upon me. How many years of this treatment will I have left? He has saved me, somehow. Saved me from myself these past few years in ways he won’t ever fathom. He’ll mature, as they all do, the fairy-tale complete in it’s inevitable shortcomings once the book is closed. For the irony alone, I have found a way to rejoice in the appeal of superheroes….but, eventually we’ve all gotta face the world on our own and grow up.