The notion there, as I understood it, was that the powers didn’t kick in until puberty/middle-teen years, and that Superman, at his heart, was just a normal guy – the powers didn’t have an impact on the consciousness. Neither did knowledge of his alien background. He was Clark through and through. It’s not my take, but it’s a fine take, and Max Landis made it work really well just this year.
That isn’t what I’m saying. I’m saying there were a few years of early youth where he was just a boy who had weird things happen around him a lot, maybe. Maybe he had some powers, but not all of them, not to the level he would - maybe he can smell things and hear things more acutely than we could when he was, say, 4 or 5, but by the time he was 8 or 9 he was seeing across every spectrum, into microbial universes, etc. That’s when his understanding of the universe would begin to evolve into something beyond human language.
In my world, by the way, his senses aren’t ‘super sight’ and ‘super smell’. You can’t hear through vacuum - the waves have no medium through which to propagate. You can’t smell through it, either – where are the mlcs diffusing? You couldn’t hear things in real time, or smell things on earth, either - it takes time for sound waves to travel and molecules to diffuse.
Rather, Superman has senses (or a sense) that could more aptly be characterized as an awareness of things, with Superman as the mobile node and expanding spheres of range, specificity and precision inversely proportional to distance from Superman, with special dispensations for loved ones and friends. This might explain why he would hear “Save me, Superman” when uttered by Kyle Raynor millions of miles away, but not by an alien just next door.
He describes this sense (or these senses) as ‘super hearing’ and ‘super vision’ because, alien and elevated though he is, his mind is languaged by human conventions. It’s not that he’s lying or dumbing these things down – he’s placing this sense, or these senses, in these categories himself, because this is how he himself understands it. Though they are beyond human, he’s processing them (when possible) in human terms. (the infant mind is a computer that the infant themselves put together, using the environment as a kind of instruction manual).