A Note From a Superhero

7:07 PM

I hadn't noticed it before
fixed to the fridge
by a Superman magnet.
Scratch paper
with a heart
messily penciled
and "momdad" scribbled
as one word.

I'm moved--captured--by it as if it were a piece of fine art. At the dinner table, I pause with bills scattered around me. Echoing from the hallway, metal clanks, water gurgles down the bathtub drain, an electric toothbrush pulsates.

My six-year-old appears, sprinting at top speed. His Batman pajamas cling to his boyish muscles and the tag and stitching of his pants are exposed due to being inside out.

"I'm ready for bed, Dad," he says, then plants his palms into my thighs and catapults himself into my lap. His head stamps a wet spot into my shirt, and when I set him back down, water runs down his forehead and drips off his eyebrows.

"Did you brush?" I ask. He stretches his lips, sticky with blue paste, and bares his tiny, bright teeth. "Looks good," I say. "Go wash your face and bring me your towel."

At top speed, he vanishes. The bathroom faucet runs for a moment before the pounding footsteps return. Wearing his towel as a cape, he whooshes with his mouth, unleashes a battle cry, then jumps to a halt. An earthquake shakes the room. Chin up, he stands straight-backed, hands on hips, Batman's logo arrayed upon his chest. I pull the towel over his head and massage the water from his hair. Moisture seeps through Iron Man's fuzzy fabric face and dampens my fingers.

"You have to dry your hair better," I say.

"I did," he says and squirms his hips, yanks his head away. I let go and he lets the cape fall, checking each shoulder to ensure the it's back to its proper place.

I get serious. "Are you sure you're ready for bed, Batman? Aren't there any banks to rescue tonight?"

He looks me in the eyes, and trying to keep back a smile, he puts his hand on my shoulder. "Grow up, Dad."

I laugh, stand. He spreads his arms and flies to the bedroom, Iron Man flapping in the air behind him. Falling to his knees, he skids to the edge of his bed. He slaps his hands together, points all his fingers upward, and bows his head. I kneel beside him. Jay says thanks for the cat that he has at his mom's house and asks that he get along better with Max at school. I say thanks for such a good son.

He plops into his pillow and wiggles underneath his blanket, where Darth Vader stands guard with his lightsaber inginited.

"What song do you want me to sing?" I ask.

"Um," he says as his eyes search his brain, "Rock of Ages."

Pondering his drawing again,
I drag the Superman magnet off,
slide the drawing
to my eye level,
and snap the magnet back on.

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