I went to see “Man Of Steel”, the latest Superman movie (some good performances, shame about the plot). Among the good performances was the wonderful Diane Lane as Superman’s Mum. Kevin Costner was his Dad. He played Kevin Costner (again), but as his style tends towards the understated, dour and mumbling, he did quite well as Jonathan Kent. Anyway, this isn’t supposed to be a film review. The movie got me thinking about what it would be like to be Superman’s Mum or Dad. We are so used to the image of the quiet Kents raising Clark to hide his powers, control his temper and keep his head down that any alternative seems strange. But what if Kal-el’s little baby-buggy spaceship had crash landed on someone else’s farm? The home, perhaps, of a typical North American family. The kind of family where Dad is a guy who loves sports, beer, bikes and trucks, and would be so excited to find out that his son could wipe the floor with any high school rival, win any sporting trophy, get into any Big League he (or Dad) chose. The kind of family where Mum does the domestic stuff, defers major decisions to Dad, and takes her daughters to do what girls do. What if Kal-el was not taught restraint, but pride?
Well, I have some news for all you parents of boys out there. You ARE Superman’s parents. There’s a good chance that one day your boy will tower over all of my three girls. He will be bigger and stronger than his own father, capable of doing real damage, should he so choose. If you have raised him to glory in his strength, revel in his power and believe in his entitlement and his superiority, then he is pretty much capable of anything.
So how about this for a deal? I promise I will teach my girls to empathize with boys, to understand that they also have to deal with many challenges as they grow up. I will teach them not to simper, tease or send mixed messages. I will teach them that they can have friends who are boys, and enjoy activities which might also be enjoyed by boys, without having to have a boyfriend. In return, I hope that you will teach your boys empathy, respect for all people, and restraint. Teach them that girls, and women, make good friends before they become lovers, and the best marriages come from joining hands with your best friend forever. Teach them that pink is just a colour, and colours don’t belong to anyone. Teach them that a good education, leading to the ability to hold an interesting conversation, is very attractive. Teach them that with great power comes great responsibility, and they must not use their physical power to make a point or win an argument.