Bryce Jenkins is so excited he can hardly contain himself. Tomorrow is his sixth birthday and his mother has arranged for a large birthday celebration. All of his friends are invited and there will be cake and ice cream, balloons and games; all the things that make up a great party. But there is something even bigger that Bryce is anticipating, but he won’t know for sure until tomorrow if his greatest wish will come true.
It’s Saturday, the birthday celebration has gone off without a hitch, and Bryce has enjoyed a wonderful time, but after all the games and refreshments, there is still one more thing that needs to be done to make it all complete; he has to open his gifts. When he finally reaches for the last box, wrapped in colorful royal blue, red, and yellow paper, his heart pounds in anticipation of what he will find inside. When he removes the box’s lid, he can see right away that his dream has indeed come true, for lying underneath the filler paper is a Superman costume; made in just his size. It takes a while for the screaming to subside, but Bryce will remain on cloud nine for weeks to come.
There isn’t a day that goes by this summer when Bryce isn’t running around the neighborhood, dressed in his Superman outfit; saving damsels in distress and making the whole world safer for the downtrodden and oppressed. Other kids, at first just play along, but after encountering him day after day, dressed in the same outfit and playing the same game; they tire of the charade and begin to ridicule him behind his back. They also avoid him; thinking him strange and weird. But Bryce doesn’t seem to care at all; he loves playing Superman.
One day Bryce decides to climb up onto the roof of his house and test some of his special, Superman gifts; flying. One of the neighbor kids, after seeing Bryce on the roof, runs to get Bryce’s mother. About the time his mother reaches the front yard, Bryce jumps from the roof; but instead of soaring above the clouds and travelling faster than a speeding bullet, Bryce drops straight down to the ground; breaking an ankle upon impact. When his distraught mother reaches his side, she cries, “Bryce, what were you thinking? You could have killed yourself.”
Between tears Bryce responds, “But Mommy, I’m Superman. I can fly.”
Mrs. Jenkins holds her son to console him. “I’m sorry son, but you can’t fly.”
Bryce’s feelings are hurt as much as his ankle and he cries, “But Superman flies.”
“Yes son, but you aren’t Superman.”
“Why can’t I be Superman, Mommy? I want to so bad.”
“Because you wish to be someone, doesn’t make it so Bryce. It’s okay to play make-believe, but when you don’t know when the make-believe stops and reality starts, you can get hurt.”
“I don’t care what you say, I am Superman.” He points at his chest, “See the big S.”
Bryce’s mother carries her son home and after placing him in the car to take him to the hospital, she scans her phone looking for a child psychologist. She truly feels sorry for her son, but she cannot continue to allow him to be deluded. Even for a six-year-old, believing you are something you’re not isn’t healthy; and wishing it so doesn’t make it so.