June 1, 2015
You hear about parents doing super-human things when it comes to their kids. Moms will lift a car off a toddler or dads will run into a burning house to save a baby. It’s all anecdotal, so there’s reason to be skeptical. Just look at this clip from America’s Funniest Videos, a lame show that usually features scenes of dads being hit in the balls by kids with whiffleball bats. Real or fake?
There’s an actual name for this phenomenon, hysterical strength. It’s about the rush of adrenaline, or epinephrine, that occurs as a response to acute stress. You don’t have to be a parent to experience this type of hyper-arousal, but it has to be a variable.
Now, there’s a reason that I bring this up. Despite my reputation, I tend to think of myself as slow-witted. Maybe it’s the cumulative effect of all the allergy medicine I’ve taken over the years or watching one too many Republican candidate debates. I know this because when some asshole says something sexist or racist, I have the most epic response. Five minutes later. I want to go back in time and give them the perfect zinger instead of just standing there slack-jawed. Huh? When something crazy is happening, I can be a few beats behind. We had a big shooting in the neighborhood Thursday night. (Maybe you saw Cozy and I on TV being interviewed.) The gunman ran right past my house. When I heard all the sirens, I should have ran outside and at least had my camera out. Better, I could have tackled the kid and been king for a day. Instead I just thought, All those sirens are annoying. Cozy, let’s eat a banana.
I’m not the only one. KPTV was interviewing some Portland official less than a block from the shooting. The shots ring out during the interview, pow, pow, pow, pow, and the guy just keeps talking. I don’t think he’s a dolt, our brains just have a hang time in processing things out of the ordinary. Wait, what? I wish I was the guy that just acted on impulse, but I’m the mouth breather that’s just standing there. Huh? Is something going on?
So here’s the story. This weekend I was giving Cozy her breakfast, oatmeal and blueberries. We bought this IKEA high chair second hand and lazy dad didn’t strap her in. She now likes to stand up everywhere, including in the high chair. I usually just shove her back down and talk to her like she’s a dog. Sit, Boo Boo. But this morning was a little different. I turned away to grab a rag from across the kitchen. The kid had blueberry all over her face. I was about four feet away from her.
When I turned around, she was not standing up in the high chair. She was on her way towards the floor, feet pointed up at the ceiling. Just typing this gets my heart pumping. Now normal, slow-witted Randy would think, Gee, that seems wrong. Or maybe, that must be some other baby falling through the air. Or perhaps, Is Ashton Kutcher playing a joke on me?
But instead, somehow, I flew across the kitchen and caught Cozy about four inches from the hardwood floor. Richard Sherman on his best day couldn’t catch an interception like that. Something came over me. There was zero hesitation. I just acted. I can’t imagine where we’d be right now if I hadn’t, but I did. It was the strangest thing because it was so unlike me. And maybe it’s all the practice of grabbing stuff out of her mouth before she swallows it. (Well, there is still that missing shopping list that we won’t tell mom about.) For a second, I was the Flash (Quicksilver for you fellow Marvel fans). I had super-human strength.
Now, I don’t want to get cocky. If I’m just resting on my one great save, that’s when Cozy gets snatched by an eagle or falls into a crevasse when the big one comes (and it’s coming). Or maybe she’ll just pull a cup of hot coffee off the counter or fall out of a window while I’m thinking how awesome I am. Maybe I just got lucky and there is no “Parent Power” gene, but just in case there is I gotta keep my Spidey Sense tingling. You can’t turn superhero off,