Nervously, I sat silently at the breakfast nook table awaiting an answer from my daughter. Ava was the Star Student of the Week, and the theme for this month was being a superhero. She was supplied with a poster with various blank sections that required fun, personal information about herself. There were sections that required a list of fun hobbies, an imaginary superpower, and the names of people in her super team (family members). There was also a section reserved for the identity of who was a superhero to her. I sat with her filling out each section. Finally, we arrived at the section that required the identity of her own superhero. And so, I asked the question and anxiously sat on the edge of my seat waiting for an answer. In popular culture, the role of the father is sometimes boiled down to an unaware nincompoop that faints at the first sign of a soiled diaper, is inept at preparing a decent meal, and is devoid of emotional intelligence that is essential for raising children.
Fortunately, young children are not well-versed in popular culture. They won’t succumb to the whims of societal pressure. So as I waited for Ava’s answer, I was hoping for some unbiased truth that wouldn’t sting too bad. Her choices were plentiful: Moana, Doc McStuffins, or any member of the PJ Masks super squad. Selfishly, I was hoping I would make the cut. To my relief, Ava revealed that my wife and I were her superheroes. As a parent, especially being a father, one only wishes that the job you perform as a parent is recognized on some level. To be loved, respected, and appreciated by your children is the greatest reward anyone can dare to hope. Through her lens, we were granted superhero status, and I felt joyous inside. So, I began to ponder what superpowers did I inherit after becoming a parent. I was able to readily identify five super-parent abilities. If you are a parent, you are probably familiar with the list below very well.
- I knew that my daughter wanted to be Moana for Halloween before she ever told me. So when I inquired about her preferred costume for Halloween, she confirmed that my assumption was indeed correct. Fully equipped and tailored with the Heart of Te Fiti pendant, Hei Hei the chicken, her magical oar, a Moana wig, and an authentic dress from Motunui (well, Target that is); she won the best overall costume for her age group. Parental “spidey senses” are quite useful when your entire world revolves around anticipating your kid’s wants and needs. And it is especially helpful when identifying potential danger around every corner. Case in point: Miles loves to be the “line leader” when entering school. However, he isn’t tall enough to be seen through the glass window by anyone on the opposite side of the door. On this particular day, he dashed to the door before me, and seconds later I spotted another gentleman about to open the door from the other side. Instinctively, I outstretched my arm (36/37 dress sleeve’s worth) to prevent the door from swinging open, thus “saving” Miles as noted by Ava on the poster above. Funny, without coaxing an answer from her, she was able to remember this incident from months ago.
The Power of Persuasion
- When I first became a supervisor, one of my directors called me into her office to perform an exercise that I believe would provide insight regarding my character and thought process. She asked what would my superpower be if I was a superhero. Inspired by a series I was watching at the time – Jessica Jones season 1 – I believe I surprised her by referencing a little known villain by the name of Zebediah Killgrave. Killgrave’s mutant abilities included but were not limited to mind control and master manipulation. I admit this was a curious selection on my behalf, and my director’s facial response said as much. Why would I choose a villain with seemingly evil superpowers? Because, when utilized with principled and honest intent, the power of persuasion can be a valuable tool when interacting with a toddler. My communication skills are best described as thoughtfully measured, honest, reassuring, and transparent. In my profession, these traits are quite useful when speaking with colleagues, hospital staff, sales representatives, and vendors. Oh – and toddlers. Whether extracting splinters, administering breathing treatments for the first time with a scary mask, or persuading a child to trust you with a hairdryer as you quick-dry nail polish; establishing comfort and trust is essential as a parent.
Reflexes & Speed
- I am blessed and thankful that neither of my children has experienced some kind of severe calamity in their early childhood. Nonetheless, that is not to say that I’ve been immune to close calls. As I mentioned before, especially with children, there is potential danger around every corner. And while it is always good to anticipate unforeseen peril; properly reacting to said peril is paramount. Now, one doesn’t need to be exposed to gamma rays or bitten by a radioactive spider to be endowed with uncanny strength, speed, or reflexes. Fear and adrenaline will work wonders. One such time involved a mental lapse on my behalf. One afternoon, I was taking Ava for a walk through the neighborhood. As I turned to close the garage door, I failed to engage the brake on the stroller. When I refocused my attention to the stroller, it had begun its descent down the driveway. Now, I may not possess superhuman speed like Quicksilver or Flash, but this big guy performed his best Usain Bolt impression and raced down the driveway to safely secure the runaway stroller. Calamity averted.
- As a parent, trust me, your ears will become perfectly synchronized with your child’s sound, both frequency and decibel level. You will also be able to detect the absence of sound. Sometimes it can be too, too quiet. How sharp will your hearing become? One night after putting the children down for bedtime, I retired to the family room to enjoy a few television shows. Faintly, over the volume of the television, I could hear my son crying out. With super-parent speed, I vaulted up the stairs to my son’s bedroom and discovered he was having a nightmare. I retrieved him from his bed, draped him over my shoulder, and soothed him back to sleep. Another circumstance found me pulling into my driveway after a day at work. As I exited my car to grab some groceries from my trunk, the sound of a distraught little girl caught my attention. Instantly, my brain began to decipher whether the child was mine and what direction the wails were being emitted from. Grocery bags and all, I ran to the backyard and found my little girl in distress over the presence of a bumblebee. We had to move dinner inside.
Invulnerability (not really)
- After my wife and I closed on our house, we soon discovered a beehive inside a basement wall. My mother-in-law lived a few blocks away, so Stephanie was at her house tending to a newborn Ava. As I was at the house attempting to pinpoint where and how bees were filtering into our basement, I was summarily stung in the face. As I staggered to my mother-in-law’s house to put some ice on my cheek, I found Stephanie with an inconsolable child that she was unable to lay down for sleep. Swollen, burning cheek and all, I took possession of Ava, turned on Kenny G’s Greatest Hits, and cradled her to sleep on a nearby couch. No, my skin is not impenetrable, but I suppose it heals rapidly and is somewhat pain resistant – that bee sting hurt!
For more of my adventures, check out entries from my Daddy Diary for your reading enjoyment.