Allow me to introduce myself. I am Superman. Unbeknownst to you, you may also be Superman. There's a strong possibility that you may also be Spider-Man. I too am Spider-Man. I am Superman, and I am Spider-Man.
Such is the strange quantum universe that my son has devised. Every person, including himself, exists as Superman, Spider-Man or both at the same time. If ever we needed a Neo-like "Whoa", this would be the time.
To best clarify what I like to call the Superhero Identity Uncertainty Principal, allow me to present a conversation that takes place in our car roughly every 1.4 seconds. The players are me (Daddy), Linda (Mommy) and Ben (Ben). Curtains please.
B: Daddy, I Spider-Man. Daddy, I Spider-Man. Daddy, I Spider-Man.(For the record, this part of the conversation will go on, unabated, until someone acknowledges the amazing transformation from toddler to crown jewel of the Marvel universe. Scientists have tried to measure exactly how long a toddler will repeat themself waiting for acknowledgment, but any person who has tried to measure this amount of time ended up curled up in a little ball, weeping for their mother.)
D: Wow. You're Spider-Man? That's great.
B: Daddy, you Superman. You Superman.
D: I'm Superman? Who's Mommy.
B: Mommy Superman.
M: I'm Superman? I thought Daddy was Superman.
B: No, Daddy Spider-Man. Daddy Spider-Man.
D: Waitaminnit. I thought I was Superman.
B: You Superman, Daddy. You Superman.
M: Ben, who are you?
B: I Ben. I Superman.
D: Wait, you're Superman?
B: Mommy, you Spider-Man. You Spider-Man
And so it continues, with every person being every possibly permutation of the Spider-man - Superman dynamic. I've tried to interject that I want to be Batman, or Green Lantern. At this point, I'd even accept being Shazam, but no, it all comes back to Spider-Man or Superman. Aside from the fact that they're both male, they both wear some combination of red and blue and they both live in a large city, they're pretty far apart from one another. I've tried explaining this to Ben along with the fact that neither Marvel nor DC would allow their two star characters to drive in a Highlander together, but he ain't having none of it.
How he knows about Superman, I have no idea. I have a Superman tattoo, but it's the symbol, and is covered pretty much 98% of the day. As far as I know, Ben has never actually seen Superman except for on his JLA sunglasses, and given that he doesn't know who Batman or Green Lantern are, we can rule that out as a source of knowledge. Maybe he's seen 30 seconds of Smallville, but that has as much to do with Superman as I do with the Rockettes. Spider-Man, on the other hand, is well represented on a tattoo of mine that's visible all the time, albeit a bit higher than his normal field of vision. More likely, he knows about Spider-Man from the older boys at daycare that he plays with. Ben will, on many occasions ask us to play Spider-Man, an activity that consists of you standing with your legs spread apart, thrusting your hand out and making a spitting noise. In Ben's worldview, Spider-Man shoots saliva out of his wrists. Handy in a jam, I'm sure.
Ben has also learned about the Power Rangers from these older boys, however as many times as I've been asked to play Power Rangers, I've never gotten a complete explanation on how to play. All I remember about the Power Rangers was that they were like 40 year olds with ponytails trying to pass as teenagers and that every week there'd be some big monster they'd have to fight, but could only defeat when they worked together. In fact, every episode's plot seems to have been lifted wholesale from old Voltron cartoons. When Ben asks me to play Power Rangers, I always ask him how to play, but in that moment, where he has to try and remember, his amazing toddler power of being unable to focus on anything for more than half a second kicks in and we're back to playing something I do know the rules to, like kicking a soccer ball while strumming an imaginary guitar and singing "Kick the soccer ball". For the record that's called "playing guitar". If you have a friend who claims to know how to play guitar, and they do it without the soccer ball, they sir, are lying.