Monthly Archives: June 2005


Way back when I had a disposable income (back before my children disposed of it completely), I was a frequent customer at our local comic book store, where I could pick up the latest issues of “Reed Fleming, World’s Toughest Milkman”; “Sandman”; and, my personal favorite, “Hellblazer” (don’t even talk to me about Keanu Reeves’ recent bastardization of one of the greatest comic book characters of all time, John Considine.).

My husband also bought comic books; however, his tastes were almost wholly different from mine: whereas I liked “Hate”, he like “Wolverine” and “The Punisher”–a type of comic I could never abide. It wasn’t that they were too violent (nothing’s’s more violent than Reed Fleming), and it wasn’t that they were too dark (the cheeriest character in “Sandman” is his sister, Death); it was just that, inevitably, at some point in the story, there would always seem to be the cheesy grunted out Superhero soliloquy.

“Must…get…out…of…here,” the hero would gasp to no one in particular, as the last of his ebbing strength faded away during yet another cliffhanger ending. (Be sure to rush out and buy the next issue kids, and get two–one to read, and one to keep “mint”).

“How cornball can you get?” I would think. “That is so unrealistic.” (Unlike the story of a man who goes to hell and fights the devil, but still.)

And then I had children, and both the Superhero bits and fighting the devil seemed so much more real.

Until I had seen an 8-year-old attempting to put dirty clothes in the laundry basket, I had no idea that people really do react like dying Superheroes when they find that, for whatever reason, their strength has suddenly deserted them. Anyone watching my daughter, Clementine, trying to carry a dirty sock across the entire length of the living room would think that the sock in question was a actually filled with Kryptonite, so frequently is she forced to lay it down and walk away from it for a “rest”. (Come to think of it, I wonder why Lex Luther never thought of placing a dirty, Kryptonite filled sock in Superman’s living room; although it was probably because Superman would have never noticed it: Super or not, he was still a man.)

As a matter of fact, it was witnessing Clementine’s epic struggle with the aforementioned sock that led me to believe that “Superheroism” might be the root of her problem Suddenly it all made sense: not only is she a Superhero in disguise, but dirty sock’s are her alter ego’s Achilles’ heel.

Unfortunately, though, for Clementine’s future as a Superhero, it’s not just socks that have this effect on her, but also dirty dishes, scraps of paper, and grocery bags. It would seem that none of these items can be carried for more than three yards before they must be set down and abandoned.

One time we were walking home and I asked her to carry my hat. When we got home and I asked her for it, she looked at me as if I had lost my mind. “I set it down somewhere, “she said, clearly bemused that I had forgotten about her “Super Weakness.” This, in fact, was the very incident that finally convinced me that my husband’s Superhero comics had had the characterization right all along,: not because I got to see a real live Superhero, complete with Super Weakness, but because I finally witnessed the Archvillian dancing an impotent jig of rage at being thwarted by the Hero once again: it was me.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Articles Archive

Warrior Woman

If what I have read is true, and in Aztec culture, a woman who died during childbirth was afforded the same rituals and respect as was a warrior who had died in battle, then what, I wonder, did they consider the mother of a toddler to be–a P.O.W.?

Granted, the mother of a three-year-old doesn’t have to endure quite the same hardships, as, say, someone like John McCain did; they’re not stuck in a hole somewhere in the middle of the jungle being poked at with sticks by people who not only hate them, but make unintelligible demands, but it sure is close. Change “hole” to “minivan” and “jungle” to “suburbs”, and you’ve pretty much summed up the experience of living with a toddler. (Come to think of it, most of the mothers I know would be delighted to be given their very own private–or even semi-private–hole.)

And then, of course, there is the whole brain-washing thing. While it is true that we don’t have to hear such things as “Uncle Sam is the Great Satan,” and watch an unending stream of propaganda films, we do have to hear phrases like: “Elmo loves you” and watch a never-ending loop of Powerpuff Girls DVDs. (Given a choice, I think I prefer the former).

And yet, even with all this overwhelming evidence of a clear link between motherhood and enforced captivity, I would be willing to bet that the Aztecs still didn’t see it as a task on par with the acts of the their bravest warriors; although, neither, for that matter, do most modern types, even the ones who are about to become parents themselves. Of course, this is probably because, like the Aztecs, the scariest thing most parents-to-be can envision is the actual birth itself, which is unfortunate, because the birth is quite possibly the only time in your entire child-rearing career where complete strangers will not only offer to help you, but will try to give you drugs to make the process go smoother. (My advice: ask if you can get your drugs “to go”; trust me: there are things that will come up in the next few years that will require much more medicating to recover from then a little thing like childbirth—the first time you change a diaper in a train bathroom just as the train starts to go around a really sharp turn, for example.)

The other argument in favor of the relative ease of the birth process when compared to the mothering process is that, while they’re in the birth canal, at least you can still be sure of not only where they are, but what they’re up to. At least you can still be sure that they are not, at that very moment, creating a mural of Diego Riviera-like proportions in the bathroom, that, by virtue of its having been constructed entirely of “man-made” materials, will turn out to be so foul that were it to be hung in a public gallery your local senator would immediately set to work slashing federal funding for public art.

Coming back to the POW argument, though: maybe for the Aztecs it was different; maybe since their mothers didn’t have to deal with things like T-ball, juice boxes and car seats, they didn’t suffer from the same stresses that those of today do, and therefore were not really entitled to the respect of a captured combatant. Somehow, I doubt it: after all, it was the Aztecs who practiced both blood sacrifice and ritualized chocolate drinking; you can’t tell me that people like that didn’t know a thing or two about the stresses of living with a three-year-old.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Articles Archive