Parental superpowers

Sep 28, 2007 at 9:29 p.m. ET

The horror of horrors for all parents is when their children act like twerps in public.

Kids rely on parents to be embarrassed. They hope we let them get away with stuff in public because we're too embarrassed to raise our voices and keep them in line, so they think they have the upper hand.

It doesn't matter how good we parent at home. Kids live in the present. And when it comes to behavior in public, there's no time like the present -- and they go for it.

That's why God gave parents superpowers.

At the first sign of trouble a parent must be able to halt a child with a glance. Now this is a very powerful glance. One eye squints while the eyebrow over the other eye rises very slowly. Yet, in order for this glance to work, it requires that you first catch your child's attention.

To remedy this God made parents ventriloquists. When your child won't hold still long enough for the glance to work, you clamp your teeth together and growl: "Knock it off!"

Of course, most children pretend they don't hear. They just carry on, bobbing around in place and making a fuss. So God gave parents heat-ray vision.

Heat-ray vision allows a parent to zero in on a child and glare him or her into submission. It's called "The Look." It's when a parent's eyes narrow into two very small slits. Kids know that when they get "The Look" they have crossed over the double line and are headed for disaster if they keep it up.

But, knowing kids -- especially my boys -- danger just makes shenanigans all the more exciting.

So I'm out in public and I've tried to catch my oldest son's attention with a glance. When that fails, I grit my teeth and throw my voice, telling him to "Sit down and be quiet!"

This buys me about three minutes of compliance. Then, the antics start up again.

To the outside world parents in public don't look as harried as they feel when they throw their voices and use heat vision to get their kids to settle down. This is why most parents look clueless to certain people who do not have kids but who think they know better how to parent than the parents themselves.

Parents aren't zoning, they're using another God given power called mind over matter. "I don't mind because you don't matter." This allows parents to cool down and get emotional distance while they gather their brood.

If you listen carefully, you might hear that mother using another superpower -- guilt. "I carried you for nine-months and give birth to you and THIS is the thanks I get?"