Much of the work we do for our kids, whether as parents or as siblings or as detached aficionados of the adorable, involves fiction. We tell children stories, about dragons and princes and mischievous monsters. We inform them of the doings of Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. We create worlds meant to inspire them and soothe them and delight them and protect them.
Usually, we do this work on our own, individually: at bedtime, at storytime, with toys and dolls and movies. We don’t normally get residents of the real world to help us create our story worlds. The fictionalization of childhood is something that plays out, in general, at the level of the family. The parent. The teacher.
Except when it doesn’t. Except when the fiction involves a massive, verging-on-city-wide effort—to inspire a kid, and soothe him, and delight him, and protect him. Sometimes, the fiction plays out along the lines of a network.
I mention this because of Batkid. In everyday life—the life that can be all too nonfictional—the Batkid is named Miles. He is 5 years old. He lives, with his family, near San Francisco. He has been battling leukemia since he was nearly 2. He is, and hopefully will remain, in remission.
Another thing about Miles: He loves Batman. Which led his parents to write to the Make-A-Wish foundation, asking it to help them perpetrate, for and on behalf of their son, the ultimate fiction. They wanted Patricia Wilson, head of the foundation in the Bay Area, to make Miles a Batkid. They wanted him to spend a day saving San Francisco.