(Notes at the bottom.)

***

Martha turned the kettle on and looked at her husband, who had just entered the kitchen.

“He’s finally asleep?”

“Sure is. I almost fell asleep, too. He made me read that blue horse story five times or so. But he’s passed out now— probably tired out from all that zipping around.”

“He’s getting faster. Four years old, and I can barely see him move when he’s in a hurry. The other day, I spilled some oats on the floor and asked him to bring me the broom. So then I hear a whoosh, the oats go everywhere, and there’s Clark, standing with a broom, looking all proud.” Martha drummed her fingers on the counter. “He’s a good boy, he just needs to learn. And maybe get a bit slower.”

“It’s the same with his strength.”

Martha nodded. “Mhm. How’s the hug training going?”

“Slowly. He’s getting the hang of it, though. I saw him explain to his Minnie Mouse toy that she shouldn’t hug him so tight or he’d break. He was moving her arms around and going, ‘gently, gently.’ It was adorable.”

“That’s Clark.”

The two parents shared a silent moment. Jonathan considered sitting down at the kitchen table, but it was absolutely covered with crayons, half-finished drawings, kids’ books, and stale cheerios. The thought of clearing some space was too daunting after his long day. And counters were made for leaning, anyway.

Then Martha spoke again, “Do you think we’re doing enough?”

“Huh?”

“I mean, every parent hopes their child will be kind and want to help people. But with Clark, it’s not enough for him to want to help. He’s fast and strong now, but he’s getting stronger. Imagine what he’ll be able to do when he’s fifteen. He could fall in with the wrong crowd. He could just, I don’t know, read the wrong thing, and think he’s doing the right thing, but in the end, people will be hurt. Or — a minor teenage rebellion— stomping his foot at school — could cause massive chaos and damage.”

“Clark wouldn’t... We’ll teach him to be peace-loving. And he’s such a gentle kid. You’ve seen him feeding the animals, whispering to them. When the calf got a nail in his hoof, don’t you remember how Clark carried him around all day?”

“But suppose he thought it wasn’t enough to carry around that calf when it got hurt. What if he wanted to solve the problem forever: get rid of all the nails in our barn so that the calf wouldn’t get hurt again? He could remove every single nail in a few minutes. He’d think he was helping, but suddenly the barn is collapsing and all the animals are dead. Everything he does is like handling a chainsaw.”

The kettle beeped. Martha poured some hot water into the waiting mugs, bouncing a tea bag from one mug to the other.

“So we need to teach him caution? Make sure he triple checks his decisions? Won’t that make him doubt himself constantly? I don’t want that for Clark.”

“It’ll be hard to find the right balance, and it’s not like we have a ton of experience with this, but we can’t just say it’s impossible and hope for the best. We need to do what we can, and get better at it.”

Jonathan found himself desperately wishing he could just worry about bedtimes and cheerios under the fridge. Or Clark’s grades, when it came to that. He wasn’t qualified for handling situations like this. He was a farmer— and a good one, but there it was — that was what he did. Shouldn’t it be someone else’s responsibility to worry about alien strengths and possible catastrophes? He sighed. “Maybe we could do some research. We can’t tell anyone about Clark, like you said, but maybe there are books. On the other hand, what are the chances that there’s someone else in this world trying to raise a super-powerful being who wants to be good but doesn’t know how?”

“Not great, I suppose.” Martha shot Jonathan a wry smile, and handed him a steaming mug.

Jonathan took a scalding sip. “Well, there won’t be a better time to plan. Let’s get to it.”

 

***

 

Notes:

  • Thanks for reading!
  • I'd really appreciate any feedback you might have, but realistically, I will have very little time to edit unless the suggestions are simple (I'm in just-publish-drafts-if-possible-mode, basically).
  • There might be a second, mostly unrelated Superman story. 
  • Thanks to Linch and to my mom for comments! :)

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