What’s your superpower

Our two elementary school boys are going through a Superhero phase. Big Man often asks me, usually when I am working, what superpower I wish I had. He wonders about the ability to fly or to turn invisible, but tops on my superpower wish list is the ability to make children turn silent when I am working. I will never attain this power fully, but there are times when I have come close, through my secret weapon of the computer tablet, loaded with video games.

Even the good guys need to use their powers for a touch of evil when they need to catch a break.

Big Man, being a normal Superhero of six, sometimes falls asleep watching TV. These occasions make me wish I had the superpower to be 20 years younger, when I could carry a heavy sack of potatoes up the stairs without wheezing.

One morning, after he had been carried, unconscious, from the couch to his bed, Big Man announced that he had teleported from living room to bedroom during the night. This was concrete evidence he was a genuine Superhero. Teleportation is a bona fide superpower, and people possessing superpowers must be Superheroes. This is especially true of children. It’s all in the Superhero employee handbook.

Way back when Superheroes knew how to play outside, some of them even teleported into their beds from the baseball diamond.

This is his superpower now: he can teleport, with certain caveats. The first caveat is that he can only do it when asleep. Caveat 2 is that he has no control over the destination of his teleportations, except that they most often end in his bed.

Caveat 3, which he has not yet encountered, is the weight limit on teleported matter, and the age limit on the fathers of those who may use this superpower. When he gains a few more pounds, or his father gains a few more years, whichever comes first, his teleporting days are over. Until then, he is free to teleport in ignorant bliss whenever he falls asleep in an inconvenient spot. In the coming years, he will have to wake up and climb the stairs himself, unless he chooses to meet the new day in the same awkward position he left the old one.

Perhaps his true superpower is being a sound sleeper. Even when I have to tussle his body into a totable position, he is not roused from his teleportation. The more I think about it, the more I think being a sound sleeper would be an excellent superpower. With all the miniature Superheroes fighting crime, peace, and quiet in my home, I think I’ll choose this as the new superpower I wish I had.

Cherished historical figured pulled from his pedestal

For his 7th grade Language Arts class (what we old people used to call English), Big Brother keeps a reading log. Fortunately, he gets to read whatever books he wants, because he is not an eager reader, and is not particularly fond of fiction. He does the best the with history, so he has been reading a book about the American Civil War. For those who did not go to school in the US, and those who did not pay attention during their US schooling, it’s important to the forthcoming incident to know that the American Civil War lasted from 1861 to 1865.

Big Brother was getting close to the end of the book, last I checked. This morning, as all the boys were getting logged into school (wrap your heads around that, old people), I asked him if he’d finished.

From his classroom on the couch, he replied that he had.

“How did the Civil War end?” I asked.

He gave the standard reply of any 12-year-old who doesn’t want to be quizzed about schoolwork: “I don’t remember.”

“Really?” I asked. “You just finished it yesterday.”

“You already know how it ended,” he told me.

“But you just read the book,” I insisted.

From his classroom, on the loveseat, Buster (3rd grade) piped up in his brother’s defense. “But you know the most about history,” he told me.

“Yes, but . . . “

Big Man (1st grade) cut me off. Sitting in his classroom on the recliner, he forestalled my argument and closed the case in Big Brother’s defense. “But you were the one who was in that fight,” he told me, just before all three boys broke into a peal of laughter.

I just got cut down by a six-year-old.

Can you blame me for being a proud father?

I’m the guy in the middle. The one holding the gun.

Where are your boob holes when you need them?

If you are like me, you probably think that all hospital gowns are pretty much the same. That just goes to show how wrong it is to be like me. You should try very hard not to do it anymore.

In the maternity ward, they have a special gown, just for mom, with holes cut out over the breasts. I don’t remember seeing these on our first visit to the maternity ward, in 2008, but I suspect I just didn’t notice. After all, I was passed out much of the time, and overwhelmed by the prospect of a lifetime of parenthood when conscious.

The ostensible purpose of these special gowns is to allow mothers to breastfeed their babies without having to navigate all the way around to the open edge of the gown. While this is a noble cause, and a team of engineers probably dedicated the better part of their careers to calculating the optimal number of holes, I think it must be the most underutilized piece of medical technology in existence.

I almost missed knowing about these medical advancements on this last visit too, and with good reason. Though my wife breastfed from the get-go, she most often did so by throwing the bulk of her gown up over her shoulder with the same abandon with which a cavalier would manage his cape.

Only once, entangled in the gown, bed sheets, and other sundry cloaks of fresh motherhood, did my wife attempt to use these helpful slits in her apparel. She wriggled around, searching the folds of her peculiar garment. “Where are your boob holes when you need them?” she muttered in frustration.

This was my first indication that such a thing existed. “What are boob holes?” I asked, a little embarrassed that, in my position as a repeat father, I might have been ignorant of an entire undiscovered acre of female anatomy.

She pointed to a spare gown hanging on the bathroom door. Unlike the gown she wore, this one clearly showed a hole, by virtue of its being hung from it. Before I could note the difference between this hole and the short sleeves at either side, I said, “I thought that was an arm hole.”

This gown must be defective. Who has arms this close together?

“How many arms do you think I have?” she asked. Clearly, her frustration with her own gown was making her sarcastic.

Intrigued, I took down the extra gown and examined it. True enough, there were two spare arm holes cut right smack into the front of it. “Science!” I whistled to myself. I was just at the point of thinking that we might be able to use one of these at home, when a couple of quick impulses cooled my ardor.

First, my wife had given up and slung the bulk of her gown off to the side. She had finally located one of the holes, but it was awkwardly situated and she had no success using it to lasso anything useful to a baby. I’m no expert on hospital gowns, but it seems to me that they are difficult to keep on straight.

Some sicko with a camera playing dress-up in hospital dainties. They really ought to be more careful about who they let into the maternity ward.

By the time a woman gets into bed and maneuvers breast and baby onto a collision course, the boob holes (pardon my continued use of technical terms) might as well be arm holes. A baby stands a better chance of finding milk by shoving his head up a sleeve.

Second, the material of the hospital gown seems flimsy and unattractive to me. I think I’ll wait until they start making these chic little outfits in leather.

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