It has come as something of a shock – or if it hasn’t, it should – that our adult fantasies are often like our childhood ones. The clean ones, that is. A recent survey of parents by a vitamin company found that all parents ask for is the power to fly, to travel through time, to heal illnesses, invisibility, and so on. All this to help look after their children.
All very good, and maybe even noble, but there is something depressing about such limited ambitions. It may be the fault of Hollywood. The superhero movies tend to have a restricted range. But fantasy has no boundaries; it is limited only by your imagination.
Telepathyman might be able to prevent his child from running away from home, and if his batteries were down, he could turn into timetravelman and bring her back. Unless, of course, the child had already worked out some superpowers of her own and changed into confuseparentswoman, with the ability to, yes, you guessed it, confuse her parents.
When I was in school, I prayed for the kind of superpower that would make me turn invisible, help me absorb every single lesson in class without trying, and hit the cricket ball clear across to the neighbouring state while batting. A sort of multi-layered superpower. I would be multitaskman, able to do all of these things simultaneously while trying to bring in world peace and eliminate hunger from the planet. But even that was limited.
All superpowers must come with the ability to wish for, and get more as and when necessary. It always struck me as limiting that Superman, who could catch bullets in his teeth and had X-ray vision, could fly and even crack a joke or two, didn’t work on expanding his range. Here’s a tip: If the person who hands out these powers ever gives you three wishes, make sure you use the third wish to get three more, or ten more or an unlimited number more. Scaling up is important.
So much for fantasies. Here’s the interesting part of the survey we started out with. Ten per cent of those surveyed are perfectly happy as they are. That’s incredible. Parents who don’t want the ability to make their children stop watching movies on their phones or eat vegetables? Parents who are happy with the way their children keep their messy rooms? Parents who don’t want to keep track of their kids’ strange friends? I don’t believe it.
Perhaps 10 per cent of folks in any survey want to project themselves as being perfect and in need of nothing special.
So, without admitting to it, that’s the superpower they want – the ability to appear perfect. So boring!