Yume Kitasei’s story “Super” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 25 October 2019.
Confession: once, when I was a teenager babysitting a toddler, I decided to try to tire him out by making him climb twelve flights of stairs. We’d been playing all morning, and I was hoping by the time we got to the top, he’d be all ready to nap until his parents came home. Mind you, this was a big baby. Big enough that he could climb stairs at all while his age-peers were still crawling. He took each step with great seriousness and intent, and when we got to the twelfth floor, I was panting and ready to lie down – and he was ready to keep going.
Children have incredible energy. I don’t know how anyone keeps up with them. Now that I’m at the age where a lot of my friends are having them, I enjoy being the auntie who swoops in to babysit for a few hours, change a few diapers, wipe away tears, play pretend. And I have just enough experience to think that every parent must have superpowers of their own.
This story popped into my mind fully-formed one day when I was with one of my friends and his son. My friend is a wonderful father with enormous patience (note to friend: the main character is not based on you). But as the day progressed, he got more and more tired, because that is how adult humans work; his son, on the other hand, got more and more wound up. By the end, my friend was operating at 5mph and his son was operating at 60mph.
This is what I was trying to capture with this story: that feeling of caring for young children you love, while feeling worn out, ragged, and less and less able to keep up with them. I also wanted to look at how a person’s priorities can change when you have a child – in this case, under extraordinary circumstances. If you are a superhero, can you really put your city before your child? What if you really have to choose? And what does that feel like? Well, you’ll have to read my story to see what I think the answer to that is!
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