The Cast: Ender (Batman Beyond), Myself (terrified).
I love my son.
That being said, let me go off on a little side trip to explain that my intent for this month was to write nothing but Halloween stories for each week. Well, that didn’t happen. But I still really want to share some. So, here is a short little tale of Batman Beyond.
Batman has some sway in my household. That needs to be understood. As a result, my children and wife all have their parts to play in this. My second son, Ender, is Batman Beyond. If you are unfamiliar with that DC character, well, that is just sad. Only because you are missing out on some great stories and a fun look at a fictional future.
About 15 years ago, when Ender was about two years old, he wanted to be Batman Beyond for Halloween. We couldn’t find any costumes his size, so I made one for him. I printed off decals and ironed them onto a shirt for him. I designed a set of Batman wings that would ‘deploy’ when he extended his arms. And we had a few spare Batman cowls floating about. Black pants and shoes… Done!
He loved it.
That Halloween we spent with Erich’s family and we all we trick-or-treating together. It was lots of fun. The adults chatted as we watched our little children run door to door and just enjoy the holiday season. I watched as Ender ran and his wings flapped in the breeze. I watched as the kids collected their candy and interacted with other kids. Erich and I, ever vigilant because that’s what we had done on Halloween for years.
After the kids had been worn out we returned to Erich’s home and wrapped up the night with pictures and candy and play. When we (the adults) finally got the kids settled down and tucked into beds (either of the real kind or the make-shift kind on the floor) Ender wanted to keep his glow bracelet next to him while he slept. It was one of those thin plastic tubes that you bend and a thing inside breaks, chemicals mix, and then it glows. All of the kids had them, for safety.
There was a little arguing about it, but what harm could it do. Really? It would glow. Ender would fall asleep. He could use it to find his way to the toilet. Everybody wins! Nope.
It was only about a half an hour after the children were put to bed that we (the adults) begin to hear crying from downstairs where mine and Cindy’s children were sleeping. At first, I thought it was just the typical night struggles parents can have with their young ones. The “I’m not tired.” or “There’s a monster.” or “So-and-so kicked me.” or “Why are one-humped camels called dromedaries?” You know, the typical stuff. Nope.
Two-year-old Ender had managed to do something I have never been able to do in my entire life. He ripped open the glow bracelet.
Have you ever tried to rip open a plastic glow stick? You can’t! You’re not supposed to be able to! But did that stop my son? No-o-o. Of course, my son has to be the one to do it. At 11:00 at night. On Halloween. At two years of age.
Cindy and I went downstairs to find Ender crying and trying to rub his eyes. We saw that his pillow was giving off a sort of soft glow also. What? What is that? “Did his glow stick… break?” “Oh my gosh! His glow stick broke!” “It’s in his eyes!” “Don’t let him rub his eyes!” “What do we do?!?”
Through some calm direction from Erich and his wife, Cindy called poison control and I held my son under the kitchen faucet to flush the chemicals and small glass shards from his eyes. Yes, I said glass shards. That’s what’s inside those things. A glass tube. So when you break the glass the two chemicals mix. (On a personal note, I do not blame the manufacturer and I still use those glow stick things all the time. They are awesome!)
Have you ever tried to single-handedly hold an exhausted, grumpy two-year-old under running water to rinse out their eyes while holding their eyelids open so that you can have water blast their eyeball? I have. It was easy. He let me. He trusted me. At two years old, when I explained what I needed to do, he allowed me to help him. Erich helped hold Ender on the counter, in case he wiggled his little body to close to the counter edge. I was so scared that night, about so many things.
I didn’t know if he was going to see. I didn’t know what the bits of glass or chemicals might do. But through some phone calls, direction, and advice from doctors and such, everything was just fine. It turns out that the human eye is quite resilient. It heals quite fast. Ender returned to his normal happy-go-lucky self the next day and was just fine. He has been ever since. Although, he wasn’t happy about the secondary just-in-case eye flush I gave him. That one he didn’t like.
Ender is now a senior in high school. He will complete his Eagle Scout project for the Boy Scouts of America this year. He is a good son. Oh, he still has his typical teenager moments that frustrate me and drive me up the wall. But, overall, I am very proud of the man he is becoming. He is inspiring to me. I look forward to seeing what contributions he gives to society. I am excited, for him, for this time in his life.
I love my son.