10 Lightning reflexes
Don’t be fooled by the bags under their eyes and the fact that they’re basically sleepwalking through daylight hours. If a retching child moves towards a new sofa, a toddler trips forward or a drink is spilled, a parent will leap forward and prevent the spillages before they can even happen.
9 Super hearing
There are a dozen children in the ball pool, most are screaming and shouting and a backbeat of deafening house music plays from the games arcade next door. With that cacophony, a parent can still identify and respond to a muffled cry of pain from beneath the swamp of multi-coloured balls and trace the reason and whereabouts of their child.
8 Speaking tongues
What does it mean when your baby says “Gabdar wheee mashpu”? A parent smiles indulgently when asked a question like this, as though they have been asked basic arithmetic or if ice-cream melts in fire. “She is saying pass the blue toy,” they will reply. Just when you’re on the verge of telling them they are talking nonsense and their verbally stunted child is doing the same, it turns out they are right. Don’t ever question a parent’s superior language recognition skills.
7 Dual identities
Like all good superheroes, a parent lives a secret life and, despite a lack of convincing disguise, is unidentifiable between their two identities. By day, they are conscientious, caring, patient and dutiful in the way they pay attention to youthful descriptions of why it is important to buy an ice-cream. By night, well, actually they are all those same things as well. Give them a rare date night or babysitter window and they will squeeze a month of partying into a few hours and be willing to discuss anything that is not what a two-year-old is interested in.
6 Super strength
They don’t ripple with muscles like your average gym bunny, but underneath that food-stained baggy T-shirt there is a wiry power and indefatigable endurance. Completing a Crossfit session is one thing, but carrying three bags of shopping, two children and a rucksack full of books and toys while hiking around The Dubai Mall is the true test of endurance.
5 Utility belts
Superheroes don’t always have inhuman powers. A caped crusader such as Batman has only his wits and the gadgets and accessories he can strap to his famous utility belt, and so it is with parents. Merely glance at a new parent and they might look like any normal person (if you forget the thousand-yard stare and mashed-up banana on their shirt). Concealed in pockets, compartments and straps about their body, however, an organised parent has instant access to wipes, tissues, toys, plasters, at least two teddies, a novelty book, sun cream, drink bottles, nappies, nappy bags and a trumpet for distracting babies.
4 Arch nemesis
You can’t be a true parent until you identify your nemesis. Another parent, a particularly obnoxious child, an interfering relative – it could be anybody. The nemesis will often pop up to undermine you at crucial moments so beware.
3 They can read minds
Techniques learned while negotiating with children should become compulsory in business schools. The paradox of a child’s mind means they will recall every minute detail of hundreds of Pokémon, but cannot remember what happened at school by the time they get outside the car park. Despite this non-verbal communication and stonewall blanking, the average parent has a decent grasp of what offspring are thinking at least 30 percent of the time. Not impressed by those odds? They’re not bad considering it apparently is learned through subliminal mind reading.
2 They overcome adversity
Sure, comic book superheroes have to battle the occasional evil genius and save the world, but we don’t see them diving head first into dirty nappies a dozen times a day. Merely the act of doing that with a smile on their face qualifies a parent as either slightly deranged or a superhero. Possibly both.
1 No thanks required
The amazing feats performed on a daily basis will go unnoticed. There will be no thanks, no reward and no celebration. It seems tough, but we wouldn’t do it any other way. Although it would be nice to have a cape.
Will Milner is a regular contributor. We think of him as an evil henchman.