Jonathan Kent knew a miracle when he saw one. After all, he’d been around long enough to know when one’s prayers are answered. Surely God in all his cruelty could not deny him a son. And if a rocket ship crash landing in front of his truck, rectifying the entire situation, wasn’t a personal apology from God, himself, for the inability of his loins, Jonathan Kent will tell you better for he finally had a son. And not just any son either. Clark was special. He would right all the wrongs. So what if the world had left Jonathan a poor Smallville farmer. It no longer mattered that his mind and body could hardly live up to his dreams. Jonathan Kent had his revenge, a personal gift from God. Jonathan Kent had a son.
* * *
Martha Kent was a saint, or as close to one as Clark would ever know. She was also a born mother, and if circumstances dictated that her only child would also be her husband, it was a burden she selflessly carried. At forty, she had all but given up the hope that Jonathan would agree to the next best alternative of the local orphanage. She longed for someone to raise as her own, but the love bursting inside of her was doomed to lay dormant, for if Jonathan was to have a son, it would be just that, his. His flesh, his blood, the rightful inheritor of the Kent name. Clark was different, and, if it meant that Martha was at last able to fulfill her birthright, she too believed with all her heart that Clark was truly God’s way of circumventing the defect in Jonathan’s makeup. Clark might not have been conceived inside of her, but he would nevertheless always have her love.
* * *
The child’s name was an important concern, and this being the Kent household therefore was left up to Jonathan. Jonathan considered naming the boy after himself, but he had heard of and encountered enough juniors to realize that they were more often than not an embarrassment to the name, a dwindling of the blood, and Jonathan Kent’s boy had to be so much more. It occurred to him that great men were often named after one of their grandfathers, but it also occurred to him that credit in those instances usually went to the boy’s namesake, and he couldn’t have that. So as was usual in these matters of the Kent household, Martha came upon the name Clark, for her favorite the esteemed Mr. Gable, and, it being a good strong American name, Jonathan was proud to have thought of it. And thus, records were filed one year late for the son of Jonathan and Martha Kent, born July 4, 1922.
The child had actually rocketed into their lives on the third, but as Jonathan argued quite effectively, why would God send a child down into the heartland of America so close to the great nations birthday. God must have meant for him to be a symbol of their freedom. America was now the chosen land, and Jonathan being a lenient and appreciative man was willing to spot the greater being a day in exchange for his son. After all, even a god makes a mistake every now and then. So Jonathan moved Clark’s arrival back a day, secure in the knowledge that he had saved God the trouble of a flood, or some other dire pestilence in the rectification of such an apparent miscalculation.
* * *
Jonathan’s belief in Clark was soon affirmed in kind by Clark’s growing skills and coordination. As an American, Jonathan had decided that his son would excel in all areas of sport, and, although even at two it was readily apparent that Clark would rather cuddle up to a pigskin, young American Mr. Kent would be Ty Cobb first and foremost if his father had his wish. Clark could be Red Grange in his spare time.
The ability to please his father came naturally to Clark. Not that it was an overriding passion that he sought to demonstrate, for as long as he could remember, it was something he did not for the pride that his father spoke, but simply because it was so easy. Clark would find that pleasing people usually was, and not only because he had the ability to do so, which God knows was almost impossible to limit. While other children were cuddling their bats and balls, hopeful gifts from expectant fathers filled with more vision than they would ever afford themselves, Clark was running around the yard using his. He was easily ten times faster, stronger, and more coordinated than the local boys three times his age. Even Jonathan’s dreams could not have conceived of this, and even his faith in God was not that strong. After all, Clark’s age was really only a guess, for all anyone knew he might have orbited the earth for years before landing in Martha’s arms. So, perhaps it was a good thing for the limits of Jonathan’s mind that Clark found him so easy to please. Clark need not exert himself. Why hit a baseball three or four miles when Jonathan was so happy with three or four hundred feet. Why run an eight second mile when an eight minute one was already so mind boggling. And somehow, Clark instinctively knew that his growing aptitude for flight would most likely be better left a secret. After all, Clark had, much to Jonathan’s chagrin, at least five or six more years before he could compete at any organized level. The world would have to wait.
* * *
Martha knew the extent of the challenge in front of her. Clark was Jonathan’s overriding passion, and if she was to have a balanced and healthy son, she would have to make good use of her time alone with Clark, while Jonathan dreamed in the fields. She had made Jonathan promise to let Clark live a normal childhood. The notion was disappointing to him at first, but he soon came to the realization that his son must make his mark as a man. He would not be responsible for a trained monkey, and if it meant that it would be Clark himself, who would have to have the drive to make himself great, then Jonathan was prepared to be the one to give it to him.
It was in the midst of all this that Martha sought to give Clark love. Love is at the same time both harder and easier than it seems. Love for others, God, and life are either there or they aren’t. It’s a lot easier to hit a baseball than it is to learn to love. Jonathan’s teaching assignment was infinitely easier, but in the end both taught by example, and Clark was more than happy to hit a baseball for his father and love his mother.
* * *
Clichéd as it may seem, Ma Kent, as she was becoming accustomed to being called, was as big on education as Pa was on sports. And, as Pa stressed “doing your best”, Ma added “never show off”. This boggled the young and fervently advancing mind of the young Mr. Kent. At two and a half years, Clark could already speak better than his adopted parents, most likely out think them, and certainly beat them in a race. It didn’t appear all too likely to Clark that he could even figure out what his “best” was, not to mention doing it without showing off. Clark, amazing as it may seem, had seen enough of life, read enough books, and heard enough conversations to conclude with a fair amount of logical acumen that it would be pretty hard for a boy, not yet three, to fly across towns doing errands for his mother in a non-showy way, no matter how inconspicuously executed. Clark decided “do your best” was the most likely candidate for extinction.
All the evidence pointed to it. Not being showy was clearly the easier option, when faced with the nebulous challenge of doing your best, and it would clearly cause much less commotion. All the stories pointed to it.
Each day, Ma Kent would read Clark some form of children’s story. Now this wasn’t an especially challenging activity for Clark (What children’s story is to someone sneaking off into the closet to finish off another few pages of Homer in the original Greek?), but Clark enjoyed being held in the soft comfortable arms of his mother, and nevertheless there were valuable lessons to be learned in a children’s story. As you can probably already tell, Clark couldn’t find much use for The Little Red Engine That Could, with all his “I think I can, I think I can’s”. After all, if there was anything that Clark Kent did know in this world, and this would last with him for the rest of his life, if it was something as silly as getting up a hill, there was no doubt that he could. “Doing your best” was just a silly pursuit without a challenge to necessitate it.
Clark found much more value in Curious George. This little monkey, in a world totally foreign to him, filled with people unlike himself, just trying to have a good time. If you can walk on a telephone wire, it seemed to Clark that you should be allowed to do so without a bunch of nutty firemen who can’t do it themselves, tossing you into a cage just because some silly man in a yellow hat told you not to do it.
All of them were like this, if you had a brain. Snow White doesn’t get woken up because there’s no such thing as those magic apples. She was probably dusted off by arsenic or cyanide, maybe something worse. Cinderella, Clark had been around enough to know there wasn’t any such thing as a fairy godmother. She’s probably still dusting for those jealous old hags. People didn’t admire talented people. They hated them for pointing out their own inadequacies. It was pretty clear to Clark. If you’re the loveliest, the strongest, the one with the most beautiful dreams, keep it to yourself. And, if that means losing the right to ever fulfill your talent, at least you would know the truth and nobody could interfere with the strength of your reality.