Disclaimer: Marvel and DC and those folks are owners of these characters, I'm just borrowing, warping, and rearranging their histories, and thusly personalities and relationships, for my own nefarious enjoyment. Everything I know about Superman comes from the cartoon, vague recollections of the movies, and one novel many, many years ago, so apologies for anything blatantly wrong. If there is more than mild swearing, I'll #(*$#. Also, I don't do children very well, so just use your imagination and come along for the ride.
There were other moments of quiet panic through the years, to be sure.
They went quickly from turtles to airplanes, and evenings and weekends were spent with kites and helium-filled balloons. Once Henry and she had gotten Clark more used to airborne balancing, Hank got to fly his brother like a kite. And then Clark was flying his brother around, although the rules were very clear about flying (just as they were about playing in the rocket in the hay loft) in their family, and no one in town seemed to have noticed anything. Hank was very disappointed that he was not going to be able to fly, but Clark wanted to be able to crawl upside down by his fingers and toes along the clothesline, so the crisis of one-sided envy was avoided. From there, Hank took to ratchety mechanical things and Clark took to nature, although she didn't think a book existed in the library that both had not read. They were both intellectually long overdue for starting school by four, but they had decided long ago that their boys were going to have as normal a pair of childhoods as Edna and Henry could provide.
When Hank was about four, Edna and Henry were starting to worry about Clark falling behind Hank in reading and interacting with the world, and then he revealed (from a sketchbook, of all things) that he was actually watching things. Very distant, or microscopic, or sometimes infrared things. And the librarian only smiled at her two favorite little patrons as they very politely borrowed biology books, and astronomy, then chemistry and physics. Edna and Hank bought a microscope and a telescope for Henry's birthday, so that he and his brother could keep learning together so rapidly.
"Our boys are going to be bored to tears at school." Henry sighed proudly, as they watched their sons from the kitchen window. They were building a rather complicated tree fort, with Hank holding the boards and Clark sticking in the nails by hand and flying the boards from the ground up to the boughs.
"Until high school, I should imagine, at the rate they're going. But I have a feeling that learning to be normal and meeting so many other children is going to be quite a lesson."
And it was, Edna thought, as she sat on a bleacher watching her younger son march in line to the seats for the college graduates. Edna thought her hair would be totally white by the time they graduated, and Henry swore he was going balder every time he had to explain away one of his boys' curiosity to the principal. Good, serious, scholarly boys, they grew up old enough to have separate rooms, learning how to be normal when they needed to be.
And they learned how to be amazing at the same time. Clark brought her flowers from India for Christmas one year, and Hank built her a bread machine ten years before anyone else had heard of one. Clark built his own Antarctic hideaway, and Hank built a suit that would let Clark take passengers, and a mower that worked by remote control.
The sunlight was beautiful through the spires of ice, and it was nice to mow the front lawn from the porch swing. She didn't know what she was going to do when they were gone. She'd been racing to keep them happy, keeping them supplied with books and parts and new mysteries of the world for what felt like the whole of her abundantly blessed, ceaselessly busy life.
For all of Hank's continuing love of words, he was the one who graduated multiply in the sciences, while Clark got a journalism degree. Then more school for Hank, and football, and then the lab accident. Clark's old baby blanket got knitted into a costume, and he started fighting crime as Superman in Metropolis, where he was slowly but steadily rising through the ranks of reporters. Strange lives lay ahead of them, but at least they had each other to keep them honest.
And Edna was finally going to have some non-crisis time to start quilting wedding-ring patterns and hoping for grandchildren. She thought it might be nice to be bored for awhile.
to be continued in Chapter Four
This sort of spilled out over the course of a single day, perhaps because I've had a particularly bad week with my own parents, causing a remarkable case of Mom envy. There is definitely more coming, although I don't know when it will erupt.