Well, that’s it: Nate and Sam have officially turned against me. I’m the bad guy and they’re both super heroes. Depending on which t-shirts are clean and what weaponry he can get his hands on, Nate’s either Batman, Spiderman, Superman, or Raphael— the ninja turtle, not the renaissance artist. And naturally, Sam is his sidekick. Nate’s been arming him with golf clubs, baseball bats, and wooden spoons and addressing him as Robin or Michelangelo. And although it seems Sam would prefer to be Tommy Lee, the drummer from Motley Crüe, he’s also quick to yell “hi-ya!” and poke me with a drumstick. They’re a ferocious duo. I go to bed every night thinking: “I lost the battle today. I’m losing the war.” I have no weapons left, and aside from my husband, no reserve troops. The dog seems to be neutral in all this, allying himself with whoever has the best lunch. It’s getting old. Not to mention painful.
What you are about to read this week is a fantasy. Easy, my septuagenarian lawyer friend with bad knees. Not that kind of fantasy. This is what life would resemble if the almighty God was willing to share some of His/Her omnipotence with me. Or if Superman, a.k.a. Clark Kent, would share his speed and ability to fly. Or if Batman/Bruce Wayne would allow me to borrow Alfred’s technology and wealth and experimental weaponry. Or if Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo, and Raphael would go halvsies with their mutant ooze, or at least teach me some ninja skills. Teach me, Master Splinter! Make me bigger, faster, stronger than Nate/Sam! Or at least make me really cool so that they respect me. I’d even settle for having pizzas delivered to the storm drain in front of our house. Nate and Sam love pizza.
The Ability to Fly: If I could fly, I’d mostly take quick and frequent vacations — just for an hour or two during nap time, maybe when Nate’s at school. I could come back refreshed and tan and with a bit of a buzz going. Thank you, piña coladas. Like Lucille Bluth, my role model in all things maternal, I am a much better mother when I’ve had a few drinks.
Invisibility: I could hide from them whenever I want! I would love to be able to eat my cereal in peace, without having stickers systematically adhered to my face. Or having to watch drumming tutorials on You Tube. It depresses me that I’m no longer surprised to find a plastic shovel digging around in my raisin bran — while I’m still eating. Sam’s reach is becoming more than a mild annoyance. I try to ward off his advances like he’s a hungry lion: by throwing raw meat at the floor in front of him, but it seems that nothing will satiate him!
X-ray Vision: I’m cheerfully imagining a world where I could peer into rooms before entering so I’d know what to expect. Are my kids in there? Do they look as needy as usual? If so, I’ll sneak upstairs and hide.
Before rounding the corner, I could do some simple reconnaissance and determine whether I’m about to get whacked in the knee cap with a baseball bat. Or skewered with a foam sword. Sometimes my life reads like a best-selling thriller. And where are they hiding those pesky WMDs? Perhaps I could do some moonlighting for the Department of Defense, circa 2003.
And I’d be able to figure out the true nature of a scream or yelp without actually having to walk into the room. Is someone bleeding out? Is Sam drinking Lysol? Is there really a monster upstairs? Or are they just wrestling with steak knives again? X-ray vision would do lots to help ease my anxiety.
Fast: This super power would save lives, especially now that the weather is nice and we’ve been sitting out on the front porch after lunch or taking the dog for a walk. I generally don’t regulate them during this time. ”Go, be free, leave me alone!” And they do — or at least, Sam does. Nate, on the other hand, is a little more cautious, like Arnold from “The Magic School Bus.” He knows what bad things can happen out in the great big world: being kidnapped, stung by a rogue bumble bee, or shrunk down to travel on a bus through the human digestive system. Where does Ms. Frizzle come up with these schemes? Sam, though, is naive. Or stupid. He doesn’t realize that a car would crush his little body, that some people in the world are evil, and that the general public cannot be bought off by his signature smile and wink combination. In fact, I’m not even sure why that still works on me. Gosh, he’s cute. What an ass.
Last week, as we strolled down the driveway, Nate and Wally and I turned right; Sam turned left, toward the very busy parkway only three houses away. Uh, Sam — hello? Do you have a death wish? Weekend plans? A girlfriend you’re meeting? A colleague? Cab fare? I’ve had to sprint after him dozens of times, and my hamstrings are not what they once were. Fortunately, neither is his sense of equilibrium, and I’m usually able to catch him. For now.
I’d also save so much time in the grocery store. Already, I have to venture down every aisle at least twice in pursuit of Sam, though I probably burn a ton of calories that way. Perhaps I should start loading my cart with merchandise heavier than fruit snacks to really maximize my weight loss results. Yesterday, I found Sam lounging between the cases of bottled water and munching on cereal after abruptly abandoning another family that he had temporarily joined.
And at the library, he’s discovered a mom-dodging shortcut: with one sweeping motion of his arm, he can clear the bottom shelf of books, thus creating more than enough space to crawl through to the next aisle. As I’m distracted, apologizing to the librarians and trying to hastily re-shelve the books according to my best understanding of the Dewey Decimal System, he’s already managed to scoot over about four aisles. A small part of me is proud — both of his craftiness and his agility— the rest of me is frustrated. And slightly embarrassed. I used to be fast! I used to be somebody, dammit! If only I had the speed of The Flash…
Super-Human Strength: Ok, I’ll admit that I’m already freakishly strong. But at the rate that Sam’s eating, I can no longer carry both Nate and Sam for more than about twelve steps. And even then, my arms usually give out and I have to let them tumble back to the ground. Fortunately, their giggling or crying — depending on what type of surface they’re dumped on to — usually drowns out the sound of my wheezing and gasping, so they’re not fully aware of how out of shape I actually am. My fiercest adversaries cannot know my weaknesses!
I often tell Nate: “I went to the gym this morning!” and then proceed to do no more than five perfect push-ups in full view. I do this every few hours throughout the day, but in reality it’s merely a bluff — like how Putin rides horses sans shirt. Fear me, Nate and Sam! Fear me! Just as Ukraine fears Russia! "You not say Ukraine weak!"
Invincibility: Oh, man — this would really be a game changer. Right now my only means of an invincibility shield is my cup of coffee in the morning. And that usually wears off before lunchtime. If I had a dime, instead of a bruise or welt, for every time I’ve been injured doing this “parenting” thing, I would be beyond wealthy. I could afford boarding school tuitions for at least three more kids and we could buy our very own RV for our empty-nest road trips instead of renting one. Or better, we could fly in our private jet! [Author’s Note: Assuming I’d also have the ability to fly, I still might opt for the private jet — especially with the guarantee of complementary drink service and a large TV for movies and Netflix.]
But back to the point: somehow as Nate and Sam are both playing with the swinging door that separates the dining room from the kitchen, my finger gets caught and bruised. Or last weekend, when Sam was “running” down the front sidewalk with scissors, and I’m the one to get injured, stubbing my toe as I chased him? Shouldn’t he be the one to pierce his little tummy or something, thus forever learning the lesson not to run with sharp objects? Or is that more of a kindergarten lesson?
Just a few minutes ago, while brushing my teeth, I found that my nose was bleeding — is that from when Sam whacked me in the face with “Goodnight Moon” or from when Nate was practicing his ninja moves on me? I’m pretty sure the best sensei would cringe watching his kicks and thrusts. And have I mentioned that Sam went through a head butting phase? I can’t remember…
And this uncertainty is unnerving. Do I have early onset Alzheimer’s? Have I already sustained too many blows to the head? Will I suffer the same fate as lifelong football players? If so, I wish I had also enjoyed the adrenaline rush of some of those tackles and sacks — instead I just feel a mother’s “love” — totally not worth it. Maybe I’m just senile now. Nate and Sam have really taken a toll on my cognitive ability and higher-order thinking. I try and read the New York Times every morning, and it’s getting to the point that I can’t even comprehend the words in the headlines anymore. If the word has more than two syllables, I’m lost. I have to sit with my laptop open to dictionary.com when we watch “Game of Thrones,” and it turns out most of those words are made up. There’s no such thing as a “white walker!” Or at least that’s what I tell my husband when he wakes from a nightmare. "There, there, white walkers aren't real. But Nate and Sam are!"
So, life is a battle and I’m losing — though I did manage a small victory this morning when I got the clothes into the washer before Sam climbed in. And added the detergent! And pressed “start!” But then he stumbled in about ten minutes later and pressed “pause,” and I didn’t even notice for at least a solid hour, at which point all sense of accomplishment and efficiency was destroyed. Two steps forward, one giant step back…
And I know lots of people who go from man-to-man defense to zone, reproducing beyond two children. At some point, you just have to shed yourself of all sentiment and emotion and run your house like a small army — a la Captain von Trapp or Frank Gilbreth. And that Miss Hannigan had some pretty innovative ideas. I’ve also always wanted to write something that linked to “Annie” — it’s just a good movie. Anyway, I’m going to require a consultation with WVU basketball coach Bob Huggins on how to effectively employ a full-court press before we move on to three kids. I must train! I must get bigger, faster, stronger — or I’m at least going to require many, many more piña coladas.