The Hollywood moguls must be in a sudden yet agreeable cease-fire. At least that’s what it seems as the park’s jungle gyms down the block have sprouted a few new superheroes, the lot of them motley and without allegiance to DC or Marvel, let alone Disney.
Batman is riding a scooter. No, really. Velcro is withstanding Newtonian Law and a scowl-some cowl is holding fast to a four-year old’s dome; there’s a cape flagging behind him that flaps in gusts as he pumps furiously around the park’s perimeter.
Obi-Wan has a Quiksilver shirt beneath his knightly robes, and with a light-saber rendered in Nerf. All his future Padawans are frankly doomed. Cayde steals the light saber within fifteen minutes and does some non-damage to the bordering privets.
There’s also Thor.
“Is that your name: Thor?! Is that for real, or are you an Avenger?” (Serious questions among seven-year olds).
Thor has Spicoli hair and impeccable balance on the lesser playground elements, the spring-powered see-saw thingamajigs. He has blonde ringlets and Cayde plays with him for a minute before finding greater intrigue in the kid running around in Obi robes and an undercut hair-do.
Cayde takes off with the Quiksilver Kenobi and Finn putters along. I follow Finn who takes to the perimeters of the park, fingering the chain-link fence and voicing his language of monosyllables. It’s a sing-sang song and he marches along to it, pausing to pick at some nasturtium else flurry a palm at some plumbago blossoms. Cayden reappears every now and then to strike with me some Nerf saber, else hang upside-down on the itinerant exercise equipment. Upside-down, Cayde’s belly shows and I’m reminded of Friday when I picked Cayde up from school. I had Finn with me, and every kid cooed because Finn is Teacher Hofman’s kid; I’m popular too and by default because I’m Mister Hofman. I’ve got a SeaWorld shirt on, and I smell like penguins. This has every six-year olds’ attention.
When holding Finn, his shirt skirts upwards.
“Aww—look at his chubby belly.”
“He’s so cute.”
“What’s that scar?”
Zecariah asks about the scar; he’s truly perplexed. He even puts down his crayon.
Cayden launches into explanation: how his brother had heart surgery and—yes—his brother had his chest opened up. Cayde lifts his brother’s shirt and points out the scar that zippers down Findlay’s breastbone.
Zecariah squints and remains inquisitive: ‘What’s that dot beneath the scar?’
I could explain about the pacemaker, the wires that protruded from Finn’s chest, the ones never connected. Wires that were implanted just in case. There were enough wires as it were, and that’s something you just can’t explain, and especially to a six-year old kid.
(In preparation for Finn’s surgery, Jenn and I wept when we were shown a doll, a model of our kid, with a marionette’s number of strings protruding its chest as the illustration of recovery. Wires upon wires upon wires).
I tell Zecariah: “Oh, it’s just a dot. Look—it makes an exclamation point. You know how Superman has an ‘S’ on his chest? Finn has an exclamation point. He’s a super-hero, too, you know.”
And I leave it at that. So when Batman shuttles around the park, and Obi-Wan wacks evil on the head with Nerf fury, things aren’t so weird. Though they always will be.
Finn wanders the park today—a full quarter mile—pausing occasionally to yell downwards into the drainage gates; he also picks random flowers and chooses to slide down the biggest slides before, finally, just sitting.
I’m at home with Cayde later. I’ve tuned two guitars and I’m teaching Cayde the Em chord. Halfway successful, I train his fingers to the ‘G’ and the ‘C’.
“My fingers hurt, Daddy.”
“I know, Kid—that’s a steel-stringed guitar. You’re doing fine.”
He looks real cute, though, with the strap slack on his shoulder and him trying so hard. I place his fingers on the strings. ‘Here, here, and here. This one’s ‘E’.
He strums it badly.
“Takes practice, Cayde. That was real good.” (‘A Day in the Life’ends on ‘E’).
“You know what that chord means, Dude?”
Every chord means something. ‘E’ is the heaven chord.
He tries again; just not there yet.