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Liam's Cape

Sunday, September 26, 2010

My son wears a cape to school. On the first day of the 2010 school year I gently discouraged him from wearing it, this remnant of a Superman costume he had when he was seven, but after a week my resistance wore down. I told him kids might tug on it and tear it, and we didn't want that to happen. He seemed unfazed. So, with some trepidation, I let him wear it. And he came home still caped, chattering like a parakeet as he always does, telling me the remains of his day, and it was fine.

He looks good in it, I think, and because he's in fifth grade, near the top of the elementary heap, and well-liked by the other kids in his tiny rural school, he wears it proudly and without a hitch. He says he thinks he gets more respect when he wears it. He says even the bullies say, "Nice cape!"  He says the teachers all love it. No wonder: Bill and I do, too.


He wore it on Picture Day, too. What is a school photo if not a record of who your boy is on the day it was taken? Why pretend he's someone else? Why want him to look like someone else? We don't. We love him as he is: creative, hilarious, quirky and unpredictable.  Caped.

I zhuzzed up his hair on Picture Day, making a perfect, fragrant flaxstack of its white-blond fibers.
And hid behind him, as parents will do when they've been eclipsed by their children's beauty.


And, having blessed his cape, it was only natural to answer the call when he came up behind me with a plastic sword in his hand. We were shopping in JoAnn Fabrics, his favorite store, fomenting spot for his creativity with its aisles of felt and balsa, styrofoam and paint.  He'd found the sword in the Halloween section, his favorite part of all, and it was just the thing to set off the cape.

I gave him two rules--that it never go to school, and that it never be applied to human flesh. And it never has.
                                                        photo by Bill Thompson III

But he swipes at imaginary foes, makes vicious whooshing sounds in the air, gives the coup de grace and then, in reverence for the life he has just taken, bows his head like any good knight.


That is a really awesome sword. And the cape--magnificent. The hair--sublime!

The self-esteem, self-assurance and self-confidence? Priceless.

Beautiful, simply beautiful. Both of you. ;o)

Yep. An awesome cape for an awesome kid. March on SuperBoy! You are my hero.

Thanks for sharing. I wish you could see my 12 year old white blonde boy with glasses who insists on wearing this combo on his skinny white legs: athletic shorts, navy crew socks and navy Lands End moccs. (Luckily a Montessori school, so more accepting of differences.) I have a feeling Andrew and Liam would hit it off instantly--two boys proud to march to their own drumbeat.

I always had a feeling that my childhood was missing something, and now I know what it was... a cape! 50++ too late???

Such a delightful spirit with serious talent for theater ! Is he into music, too ?

Rock on, Liam !

Laughing here... Love, love, LOVE! Liam is what it's all about. Honesty and pure joy. His parents are responsible...

Oh, Julie--I am smiling and tearing up all at the same time.
See, I have raised such a son. When my son was five, he wanted a cape. So I sewed him one, out of red fabric and stitched a G on it (for his first name).
He loved swords--and unicorns. One year for Christmas he wanted a REAL sword. And he got one. Then, he would lie on his bed, poking it at the ceiling. We'd hear THUNK THUNK from upstairs. Some time later we noticed all these little poke holes in the ceiling!
He is now long grown. But my mother's heart still holds that dreamy imaginative boy.
Oh, and finally one year after receiving too many unicorns, he allowed as how he really had outgrown them.

What a wonderful young person Liam is to know himself well enough to know that the cape is exactly the right thing. I like his confidence.

Such a good, good little man.

How wonderful that there is still a corner of this crazy world where a kid can be a kid and express some innocent individuality!

I'm a bit beyond the fifth grade, but I can honestly say just the other day I was having a fantasy about sewing a cape to wear on my walks in the woods. It seems like such a cool, simple, practical, versatile and comforting garment. But alas, I don't sew and my mom is long gone. Liam is a lucky guy to have such a cool cloak and such cool parents.

Way to go "Extraordinary Man". That is the name we came up wit one day at school. (I'm his teacher.)

Posted by Kelly Hendrix September 26, 2010 at 6:17 PM

Hey, check out the Magic Cabin catalog, which I believe has many capely accouterments! And a hearty "right on!" to Liam!

Someday, he will help to save the world. Or at least part of it. Great story.

Oh, what a jewel of an entry! And what a jewel of a boy. Thank you, thank you! What a wonderful story--and it is true!


*[Liam is far too young to know or understand the early Randy Newman song with the lines, "They all laugh at my mighty sword---why is everyone laughing at my mighty sword?"

I wish you were standing in front of me right now, Julie Zickefoose. Because I could just hug the everlovin' heck out of you.

All the strength of youth lives in the hearts of our children and how you are protecting that core, that innocence in Liam....well, I just love ya for it.
Letting him wear that cape to school, that's love.

Liam reminds me a little of a blonde Harry Potter: same gravitas when it comes to the important things (like vanquishing foes) but more joy and spunk. Maybe Captain Planet is a better analogy?

Thanks for all the love, folks. Skip, great tip. Will check it out. I think MojoMan is shopping at Magic Cabin right now, hoping they make an XXL. ;-)

Claire, note the Gryffindoor shirt in the first series. I probably spelled that wrong. But that's his current favorite shirt, since he grew out of the Alligator Al's T-shirt that he wore backwards for three years because all the awesomeness was on the back of the shirt.

Kelly, we're so blessed to have you as his teacher. He's bringing in something unusual for you today. It's in a Ziploc, and not alive.

Liam remarked to me yesterday that now he wishes he had a tail. That was one of my big wishes when I was eight.

Just the fact that you've created a young man who knows he'll be received as "cool" in a cape is huge. I can't wait to read books he'll write when he's older about growing up on Indigo Hill with you and Bill as parents.

Yay, for Liam! Yay for you guys! How wonderful it is to have a head and heart full of dreams and possibilities. It makes me think of Guy Clark's "The Cape". I hope that there will always be some superpowers retained therein, for all of us.

My nephew wears a kilt to college: Northwestern University.

Prince Liam rocks!!! And so does his mom. You are the Queen of Cool Julie and Liam is too!!! What a great post!

Go Liam! I'm so proud that guy is unafraid to be himself!

My wife makes little t-shirts with a super symbol using the first letter of their name along with a cap. She gives them to our kids, friends, and cousins. My kids wear theirs to school. One cousin was sent home from school to change their shirt because she was flying around the classroom being a distraction. Good stuff!

Those foes may be imaginary to you, but they are very real to a 10year old boy.

"It's in a Ziploc, and not alive."
Just the assurance every teacher wants to hear.
I may stop laughing some time tomorrow.

Love it! You need a cape too Julie, because you are definitely a SUPER mom!

I am a little late here, don't know how I missed this entry last month. But had to say, I really think that last photo of Liam is enlarging-and-framing-worthy. Hung-on-the-wall worthy.

Posted by holly-the-person October 9, 2010 at 7:56 PM
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