Sometimes you just have to write…

My husband’s superpower

Last weekend, I was sitting on the sofa downstairs, playing something or other on my iPad. My son, who’s 14 years old, came down the stairs and announced to me that there was a message on the computer upstairs from the police.

It turned out that he had downloaded a virus onto my husband’s computer by mistake. The message on the screen said he had downloaded child pornography so he’d have to pay a fine and gave information about how to pay it. My son told me that some files had appeared as well, and he’d deleted them, but that the police message wouldn’t go away.

I am pleased to say I stayed calm. I figured it was just a virus, and, rather reluctantly, got up off the couch and went upstairs to try to figure out what was wrong. It took me most of the day to puzzle out how to get rid of that virus, but I did manage it eventually by restoring the computer’s settings from the day before. And I installed some better virus-protection software as well.

But that’s not what this post is about. It’s about the fact that, when my son first downloaded the virus, my husband, Albert, was sitting right next to him at the adjacent desk.

My son was so unwilling to approach Albert about the virus – which had infected Albert’s computer, not mine – that, instead, he came downstairs to ask me.

I asked him why he hadn’t gone to Albert. “That would be too embarrassing. And he would be mad.”

I hasten to explain that Albert is one of most gentle, mild-mannered people I have ever met. He very rarely even raises his voice, and a raised voice from him is a normal-sounding voice from most other people. I’ve never seen him even the least bit tempted to use physical violence.

I asked Albert to pose with The Look. This is NOT it. Apparently it just comes naturally so he can't produce it on demand.

I asked Albert to pose with The Look. This is NOT it. Apparently it just comes naturally so he can’t produce it on demand.

What Albert has is The Look. And the kids are terrified of it. They’ll do anything to avoid it. That is his superpower.

When I went upstairs and started trying to figure out what was wrong with Albert’s computer, of course I told Albert what had happened, and, as usual, he reacted very mildly. Of course, there was the expected groan and a sigh, and a few questions about virus-protection software, but mostly he just left me and my son to deal with it, while he went back to his stamp collection. So there was nothing for my son to be afraid of.

I’ve noticed The Look before, of course. When the kids were small and misbehaving in whichever of the many ways small children do, Albert could simply look at them, silently, and they would immediately stop, and if he raised his voice to tell them to “Stop it!”, they’d sometimes even burst into tears. Somehow Albert’s disapproval hurts, in a way that mine, much more overtly expressed, never does.

Our “extra son,” who’s 16 years old, just explains it as “I’m scared of him.” So whenever he has a problem, or a request, or a confession to make of something he did wrong, he comes to me – never Albert.

What I want to know is: where does this superpower come from, and how can I get some of it?

8 comments on “My husband’s superpower

  1. Phoebe @ Lou Messugo
    May 26, 2013

    If you ever do work out how to get some of that superpower, I want some too! It’s amazing how some people just have authority while others never do. Is Albert a teacher by any chance?

  2. rachela
    May 26, 2013

    We’re both teachers! But he teaches at the local university’s dental school, so discipline isn’t an issue. And he had this superpower long before he started teaching!

  3. Caroline
    May 26, 2013

    Hmm, I have to say that I’m a little scared of Albert meself! Is this isn’t ‘The Look’, then gosh, the real one must be truly frightening ….

  4. rachela
    May 26, 2013

    LOL! It is!

  5. Kim Hawkins
    May 26, 2013

    Loved this post! My Mom was the one who had ‘the look’ and it was so powerful I’d tell her to stop yelling at me and she wasn’t even speaking. Ha!

    My superpower is posivity. So if you want someone to tell you we can find a solution or need encouragement to do better next time, I’m your girl!

  6. Erik
    May 27, 2013

    How does Albert feel about this superpower? Surely he doesn’t want people to be scared of him?

  7. rachela
    May 27, 2013

    No, I think he finds it quite useful. It only flashes for a moment: everyone instantly complies, and then it’s gone!

  8. Delia @ Blog Formatting
    May 27, 2013

    Ha! Too funny! I’ve heard of people with these “superpowers”, which are apparently scarier than scary. Glad all is OK with the computer!

    I can just imagine your son trying to get rid of the virus right under dad’s nose, who had no idea what was happening 🙂

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This entry was posted on May 26, 2013 by in Family and tagged , , .
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