"So if you could have one superpower, Mum, what would it be?" It was past eight thirty, and I was trying to get my nine year old daughter to bed, but it was a good question. And certainly far, far easier to answer than the last one.
"When is a good time to have your first kiss?" she asked me, just the previous day.
"Just a peck on the lips, or a proper kiss?" I asked without thinking (stupid, stupid mistake).
"Proper kiss," she said.
I thought for a moment. "Thirteen," I told her, and then kicked myself immediately for not answering 'twenty-one'.
"Um, Mum.... what's a proper kiss?" she asked next, and I kicked myself again. Harder, this time.
I tried to answer her question gently, using mild phrases such as 'open lips' and 'touch tongues', but my daughter responded with such violent horror that I feared I had done her permanent damage.
Happily, with the question of superpowers, I felt myself to be on much more solid ground. Then again, I had no idea what I'd choose.
"What superpower would you want?" I asked, hoping to buy myself a bit of time.
"I'd want to be invisible," she said confidently, "so I could sneak out of class." Then she thought for a moment, and wrinkled her nose. "Except that I wouldn't need to sneak out of class if no-one knew I was missing...."
I nodded. It was a good point.
My eleven year old son wandered into the room. "Invisibility is lame," he said, dismissively.
"Yeah, it's lame," my daughter agreed. "I don't want Invisibility. I want Duplicability."
My son laughed. "Huh? What's Duplicability?"
"You know - the ability to make two of me," she said. "One of me can stay in the classroom, and the other one can sneak out and play."
"But then you'd fight with each other about who goes to class and who gets to play!" he said. I was impressed. His logic was impeccable.
"So then we'd both be invisible and we'd both get to play!" she retorted.
"So then why do you need two of you?"
She looked momentarily confused, then giggled. "Okay, what superpower would you have?" she asked him.
"I'd want a force field around me," he said.
I raised my eyebrows. "Would you really need a forcefield?" I asked. "I mean, it's not like you get attacked very often. Not many Evil Supervillains around these parts."
My son rolled his eyes. "Yep, Mum, I do know that. But I could use it to win at hand ball."
Oh. Fair enough. I couldn't argue with that.
"So come on, Mum," my daughter prompted. "What superpower do you want?"
I thought intently. Did I want to fly? Did I want to read minds? Did I want to be able to eat whatever I wanted and never get fat? Did I want to be able to conjure family meals out of thin air? Did I want to make housework disappear with only the power of my mind?
I was tired. I couldn't think straight. It was late. And the kids were showing no signs of going to bed.
"I want the power to get you kids to sleep whenever I want!" I announced triumphantly.
They snorted. "Mum, that's never going to happen," they said.
True. But Force Fields and Duplicability aren't ever going to happen either. And hey, a mum's got to have a dream.