This adorable little five-year-old pixie is my niece, Cleonir-Rosa, or Cleo (pronounced "Clay-Oh") for short, and I got to spend the better part of this past Saturday with her and other members of my family at a pre-wedding cookout in Baldwin, Long Island. The time I spend with her re-energizes me beyond my ability to properly convey and her sense of wonder at so much that is still new to her is downright infectious. By now it should be fairly obvious that I love this child like she were my own, so what the hell kind of family member/positive elder role model would I be if I did not gently nudge her in the direction of superheroes? Superheroes are good for kids for many reasons, chiefly because they stimulate the imagination and impart the values of being a "good guy" and doing the right thing, and I'm overjoyed to say that Cleo has taken to the capes 'n' spandex crowd the way I take to beer. Since she's been old enough to comprehend stories. I've showered Cleo with storybooks on mythology and such, so superheroes were not much of a stretch from that. And now, having absorbed the lore of the Justice League, Wonder Woman (the excellent and ultra-violent cartoon version from a few months back), and the G-Force — the seminal Japanese bird-heroes, aka the "science ninja team Gatchaman" — , Cleo has begun to spin her own stories of super-powered adventure. Case in point, this dream she related to me the other day:
A couple of nights ago I dreamed about Wonder Woman, and there were lots of bad guys and they got away. But then the other superheroes came and made them all dead.
And then it rained sprinkles.
I don't know what you think, but that nano-story had more action and plot interest than many of the books being written these days by professionals, and I particularly like the Grant Morrison-esque ending where it rained sprinkles for no apparent reason. So remember you read it here first: I'm predicting a future comic book writer, at the very least. Or maybe she'll grow up to be the first astrophysicist to grow hydroponic weed on the moon. Who knows? Who cares? All I know is that I'll love her no matter what she does, and what she ends up doing will no doubt be glorious.
Uncle Bunche, as nieces Hannah and Cleo test the tensile strength of his mighty Afro.