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Behold the super powers of parents
When it comes to parents, the Lord giveth and he taketh away. We lose our minds, yet inherit special powers. It’s as if God makes us Superman, only to hand us kryptonite.
New mothers who haven’t exercised for months -- due to the little bundles of kryptonite they’ve been expecting - somehow acquire superhuman strength. Only divine provenence can explain a 130-pound mom managing to push an overflowing cart down the grocery aisles while carrying a child on each hip and jugs of milk in each hand. When a mom asks her husband to lug heavy things up from the basement or open a jelly jar, it isn’t because she can’t do it herself: She’s merely inflating his ego.
Dads acquire powers, too. You know that boys’ voices deepen during puberty, of course. Well, men’s voices undergo a second change the moment they achieve fatherhood. Every dad, even high tenors, suddenly acquire the ability to drop two octaves when it’s time to assert paternal authority. It comes as a shock even to us: We open our mouths to tell our kids to pick up their toys, and what comes out sounds like James Earl Jones from “The Lion King.” The floorboards quake, lamps nearly fall from end tables ... you half expect Charlton Heston to show up with stone tablets. My younger brother once sulked away from a reprimand from our father saying, “You didn’t have to say it so LOW.”
Think moms and dads don’t have super speed? Watch in awe as a small child wanders from the sidewalk to the street and is snapped up in a flash. And Plastic Man would eat his heart out if he saw parents retrieve a pacifier flung, in a fit of toddler rage, beneath the refrigerator all the way to the base board.
Don’t forget those super hearing powers: Mothers somehow can distinguish the pitch of their child’s voice from the 30 kids whining “Mom ... MOM ... MOM!!!” in the ball pit at McDonald’s Playland. Conversely, dads acquire super non-hearing, an amazing ability to tune out all horseplay around them. We can nap in a La-Z-Boy while 12 children hopped up on Christmas-stocking candy shred their presents in an orgy of avarice at our feet. The letter on the chest of our superhero costume, of course, is Z. As in Zzzzzzzz.
It isn’t all good, of course. Parenting takes its toll. For one thing, it tends to turn our brains to mush. I think this starts in the early years, when parents who used to read books or watch documentaries find themselves subjected to The Wiggles and SpongeBob. Before they know it, formerly intelligent adults can’t so much as remember where they put their keys. Or the car.
I figure this is part of God’s balancing act, as children - through the miracle of their sponge-like memories - pick up the slack. When Mom forgets the whereabouts of something -- her keys, her car, her mind - the kids display instant recall. They memorize things instantly, too. I’ve always said that if I get hit by a bus during a theatrical production, my kids could serve as understudies: They know my lines by heart before I do. Then again, it would’ve looked strange seeing an 8-year-old girl don a straw hat and suit to play professor Harold Hill.
Parenting isn’t for ordinary mortals. Mothers’ bodies undergo a complete metamorphosis, and Dads put on sympathy weight. Kids give moms gray hairs, and cause dads to lose their hair. “Coming soon to DC Comics, two exciting new characters: the Gray Lady and Baldo!”
God gives us super powers because he knows we’ll need them. It’s the least he could do, after sending the stork to drop off those bundles of kryptonite at our door.
Ben Bromley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Twitter at ben_bromley. A former Lillie Suburban Newspapers editor, he now writes for the Baraboo News Republic.