“So,” says Eldest, “I made this questionnaire on Facebook and it’s so weird how consistently it’s the same few things my friends all miss.”
“Like?” asks Fritz.
“Where’s your sister?” I ask – because we’re sitting down to dinner.
“She went to bed early,” and Eldest turns back to her dad, “Like what flower I'd be happiest about receiving and what superpower I’d want to have.”
“She’s asleep?” I pass the salad to YoungSon who doesn’t want any.
Eldest turns to me and nods, “She said she was tired.”
“How many leaves do I have to take?” asks YoungSon.
“Eight,” I say.
“So what superhero power?” Fritz asks Eldest.
“Guess,” says Eldest, “ - Telepathy. Elasticity. Flight. X-ray vision. Telekinesis.”
“Elasticity?” says Fritz.
“What’s the telephone thing?” says YoungSon.
“Telepathy? Reading people’s mind,” I say and then to Eldest, “I’d have to say flying.”
“Yep,” says Eldest.
“Really?” says Fritz.
“Always,” says Eldest. “In fact I truly remember remembering that I once flew over this very table in our old house when Middlest was a baby. I just – flew – no one else was in the room.”
“Huh,” says Fritz.
“What about you guys?” asks Eldest.
“I don’t know,” I say, “Being able to stop evil plans from being carried out. Somehow.”
“Elasticity, now,” says Fritz. “It would depend on how elastic you were. If you were so elastic, you could stretch and stretch, thinner than threads, and then you could be invisible.”
“Except then everyone would keep getting tangled up in you,” I say.
“Yeah, people would keep tripping over your stringiness,” says Eldest.
“So, you’d just drape yourself along the walls,” says Fritz.
YoungSon says, “I would like to explode things and plus all the good parts about flying.”
“And if you were elastic,” says Fritz, “you could stretch your arms into wings and then you could also fly.”
“I think what I’d want to be,” I say, “is to be able to read people’s brains and read molecular structure and be able to go in and adjust things. Like if there’s a bad guy who’s planning to do his evil deed, you just slip in, ‘You are SO tired. You need to take a nap,’ or ‘Candy bar!’ And if something is broken like a bone, or someone has cancer, you just move things back into place or pull out the plug on the cancer cell.”
“So you want to be MicroNudge?” says Eldest.
“Yeah,” I say.
Eldest says, “The problem is – I don’t want to fly to be able to fix anything. I just want to fly.”
“Or how about Quantum Guy,” says Fritz. “You know, like with the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. They’d never be able to tell exactly where you are.”
I am suddenly imagining my husband in shiny tights - neither here nor there, particle nor wave, accompanied by a cat that may or may not be dead.
“I’d like to be Nature – ” begins YoungSon.
Eldest says, “You’d need a better name than Quantum Guy, though.”
YoungSon says, “I’d want to be – “
Eldest says, “Mr. Quantum, at least, would be better.”
“No,” I say, “Quantum Guy’s great. You have to have a kind of nerdy name if you’re Quantum Guy!”
“Mom,” says YoungSon, “I’d want to be Nature Boy!”
“Would you?” I say.
“All the animals would come to me and I could change into any animal,” says YoungSon.
Fritz says, “The only problem with changing – what if you change to something that doesn’t think very well? And then you’re just stuck that way?”
“Like a bacteria,” says Eldest.
“Or with my luck,” says Fritz, “I’d change into a bird and get eaten.”
“But if you changed fast enough you could become a seed and just pass through,” says Eldest.
“I think,” says Fritz, “if something ate me, I’d change into an elephant.”
“Oh,” says Eldest, “stomach-ache!”
A beat, while the hapless predator's eyes bug out and then -
“Awesome!” YoungSon guffaws, in that toothy eight-year-old-boy way, as the debris rains down in each of our separate imaginations -
And dinner is over.