I caught a clip of Barbara Walters interviewing Barack Obama in which she asked him what superpower he would choose if he could have only one. He answered that he had discussed this question with one of his daughters and they had agreed that flying would be pretty cool. Without getting political, I happen to think that ‘flying’ shows a lack of imagination on behalf of our Commander-in-chief.
I have heard that when asked this question a majority of men choose flying while women tend to opt for invisibility. What this says about the difference between the genders is a question for a different time, but I think the power the President should have gone with is mind control. Think of how different diplomacy would be:
Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: Tyranny and mass destruction of innocent people is the way to go!
(intense, yet subtle glare from the President)
Ahmadinejad: On second thought, I have heard some rockin’ things about democracy and peace.
Clearly mind control would come in handy as leader of the free world.
Then I realized that the president already has a kind of superpower that I envy. Given that his children are constantly watched by the Secret Service, he has the ability to know everything that happens to them at school.
I struggle with this aspect of parenting: When your kids are little you are in charge of every moment of their day. You know what they ate and when, you know how many times they were changed, what they played with, and how long they slept. Babysitters and daycare workers even give detailed reports of what happened during the hours you were not there.
As they grow, your knowledge of your children’s moment to moment activities shrinks disproportionally until you end up with a ‘How was your day?’ ‘Fine!’
Fine? Fine?? How was the test we studied for last night? Why are you only wearing one boot? What happened with that kid who was giving you a hard time? Who did you sit next to on the bus? What did you talk about? Seriously, how did you not realize that one of your feet was really cold?
At the White House I bet it goes more like this:
Mr. President: How was your day?
First Kid: Fine.
Mr. President: Fill me in, Thomas.
Handsome Secret Service Agent Thomas: Sir, she looked bored during math and spent Language Arts class giggling with Samantha. Here are copies of the notes they passed. She floored her geography teacher with the information that Iran is no longer a hotbed of evil. That bully Jill was on her case again, Sir, better take her parents off the Holiday party invitation list.
Mr. President: Thank you, Thomas. Before you go can you please get North Korea on the line, I have a mind to open some borders and lift a decades long veil of military secrecy.
I suppose it is healthy for parent and child to have their separation. Mothers get a chance to recharge, be productive at work or at home, and read up on how the NFL determines who gets into the playoffs so that they can retain their status of coolest mom on the block (3 months running! Take that, mom on the corner whose house always smells like something wonderful is baking). And children get the opportunity to flex their wings, struggle with their identity, and make their own way in the world without mommy constantly reminding them to ‘be a good boy!’ and ‘keep track of your boots!’
So until I am the official occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, I suppose I will just have to assume that everything is indeed ‘fine’. Or perhaps I will opt for invisibility so I can hover over my kids without them knowing I am there. And maybe furtively trip that kid who’s been bugging them.