My Brother-in-Law, Steve, is a huge superhero comic book fan. He came to see us (and the kids) last weekend and over dinner we were discussing the recent spate of superhero movies. Thor, I am told is a Norse God banished to earth and the upcoming Green Lantern movie is about a test pilot who procures a magic ring. It got me thinking about super heroes and their superpowers and what, if I had the choice, would my superpower be?
A lot of the obvious ones spring to mind. How cool would it be to be able to fly, to soar with the eagles and the swifts? Super-strength would come in handy.As men we can always rationalise it away but we always have a grudging admiration for the big guy with the hugh muscles. There have been many times when I have been stuck on a crowded, sweaty, train whilst commuting that I longed for the ability to teleport to wherever I was going. However, I quickly dismissed all of these as being fun but in the end frivolous. If I am going to have a superpower it has to be a really important one that would transform and improve my life and those of others around me in a profound manner.
The next one that came to mind was the ability to read minds. With two children who are just starting to communicate, my world is often filled with squawks and screams as they try to explain to their thick headed father what they want. Most of the time I figure it out but often not before we have had a tantrum (Arun) or tears (Meri). It would be wonderful to be able to know what they are thinking, be able to predict what mischief they are going to get up to and head them off at the pass. Mind reading is also a talent that would come in handy when dealing with my wife. I think we communicate pretty well but I think that 99% of men would say that about their relationship. I am not convinced that many women would say the same. I can read the obvious code (we all know that “It’s up to you, dear” means “Don’t even think about it!”) but many of the subtleties of everyday living with a woman still elude me after nearly twelve years of marriage.
However, none of these would be my dream superpower. If I had the choice, I would pick the power of healing. There have been countless times when Arun had been ill, often in hospital that I have stood by frustrated and pained as I watched him suffer. When he underwent every one of his ten operations (four of them on his brain) I felt all the agonies of fatherhood. I would have given anything to have been able to spare him what he was going through. Moreover, when his brother Rohan was terminally ill, I held his frail body and wished that I could heal him. However, the power to mend the pain, suffering and hurt all around eludes me.
However, I am not disconsolate. I already have a wondrous gift. The most important thing that most of us will do is to have children and raise them. A lucky few will have the opportunity to save and transform lives as a part of their work, but for most of us the lives we can touch the most are those of our children. The creation of life and the ability to shape it in the form of my kids is an incredible experience and privilege. I have no allusions to being “SuperDad” but just being a Dad is super enough for me.