Batboy turns four

AN HOUR into my son’s fourth birthday it felt like we were hosting a Batman Convention.

Wearing a newly-unwrapped Caped Crusader costume – replete with a plastic bondage-style mask – he was surveying a sizeable horde of branded merchandise: figurines of different sizes, a ‘Brave and the Bold’ DVD, an early years book, Lego replicas, a t-shirt, pyjamas and, last and certainly not least, a Bat Cave.

In honour of one of the most celebrated Batman impersonations, our front room resembled its counterpart in a certain high-rise tower in Peckham.

Something, or someone, infected him with his Batman obsession about six months ago. Presumably it was a result of the playground chat at nursery because around then he also professed fandom of Ben 10, even though he’d never seen a single episode at the time.

I might call him Boy Wonder in dispatches but I’m under no illusions that I have much influence over his tastes and preferences. That much was clear a couple of years ago when he became obsessed with machines, particularly fast cars. I can’t spell matzerati. I used to think ‘overhead cam shaft’ was a sexual position. And if the Duchess ever points out a slick car she quickly adds the helpful note: ‘The black car over in the far lane’.

I’m enjoying the Batman phase, however. Bruce Wayne is my favourite superhero because there’s something almost literary about his back story and the Gotham City wars, unlike the comic strip ideas in Spiderman and Superman (both of which Boy Wonder also likes, although not with the same intensity).

While Boy Wonder likes the Kapow! campness of the 1960s version – and thinks the Dark Knight merchandise is for a completely different superhero – he’s intrigued why Batman does what he does and is drawn to the child-friendly but more authentic versions of the legend.

Right now, he’s convinced he’s going to be Batman when he grows up – this morning, he even told us: ‘I was born to be a bat!’

I’ve yet to show him the marvellous assessment on Quora of whether a mere mortal could ever assume the role. Then again, I might not have to on the basis of his first day in official uniform. This afternoon, as his bladder threatened to burst and he grappled with the velcro on his new suit, he threw his arms in the air and shouted at no one in particular: ‘Aargh! Why doesn’t Batman wear jeans?’

 

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