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.
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.