Posted by jdg | Friday, January 14, 2011 |

I know, I know. . . superheroes are pretty much the little boy equivalent of princesses. And those of you who've been reading for a few years know how hard I've tried to keep the Princess Industrial Complex's tulle-draped arms from obscuring my daughter's imagination. It certainly feels hypocritical not to go on some tirade about gender roles and how little boys are encouraged to be heroes while little girls are told to wait around until they are rescued.

But for months my little boy has been draping his favorite blanket around his neck and standing at the top of the stairs, shouting down to us: "Does anybody need a rescue?"


How could we not make him a superhero costume for Christmas? The kid truly believed that a "real" cape would let him fly.

(We added the silver lamé pants just for style)

I have been videotaping the kids a lot lately, because they have been playing so well together and I'm going to need evidence one day (when they aren't getting along so well) that there really was a time when they were best friends. My daughter even requested her own "super hero costume" so she could play with her brother. We wanted the kids to really be a part of the design of their costumes, so we talked to her a lot about what kind of superhero she wanted to be.

Her supergirl would have star powers, a star wand, and a bag full of stars. And wings (in addition to her cape). My wife sewed up the bag, the hood, and the cape, and appliquéd a star on a yellow leotard. Truthfully, I think what we may have here is a star fairy trying to pass herself off as a superhero, but we'll keep such speculation to ourselves. 

We hand-sewed a bunch of stuffed stars out of yellow felt and attached long ribbons of silk to them for her to throw, and that's what she has in her bag. We also talked to Gram at length about what kind of superhero he wanted to be, and he maintained a desire for electric powers. So he became Electroboy.  Or Teslakid. Or Plasmadude (he hasn't decided on an official name yet). His origin story is still a bit murky as well, but I think he may have gotten his powers when he stuck his finger in an AC Outlet without the appropriate childproofing measures.

My wife sewed up the cape, the cool wristbands, and the mask. Originally I wanted to make him gloves that had lightning bolts shooting out of the fingers like Dr. Irwin Moon, but this proved challenging. So I ended up just taking a piece of an old Swiffer We Jet and added a felt lightning bolt to one end. I bought a little LED-lightning bolt keychain that lights up and makes a thunder sound and glued it to the Swiffer handle. He calls it his electrogun.

The boots are just something we had in the closet, but I think they make pretty great superhero footwear.

The mask proved challenging to make as a Christmas present without a model for trial fittings, so my patient and persevering wife actually made two others before she finally knocked it out of the park with this lightning-bolt design:

The superhero costumes have provided hours of fun, and they've only had them a few weeks. On these cold days when we can't spend much time outdoors and his sister is in school, Gram likes to put his superhero costume and run around big public places looking for anyone who might need a rescue. At Ford Field, he recently defeated a supervillain who was building a giant lazer blaster to destroy the Earth:

With no one left to rescue, this youthful superhero gazed out upon his admirers with the satisfaction of a job well done, promising that as long as there was rescuing left to do in the world, he would be there.

So face front, true believers. I'm sure this super boy and his astral accomplice will appear in these pages again soon.