Mommy Magic: Do you have the super power?

This week’s blog post is by The Paternity Test co-host Matt Boresi, who lives in the Edgewater Glen neighborhood of Chicago with his wife (“Professor Foster”) and their 4-year-old daughter, Viva, who in case of fire, finds Mommy.

Sometimes the wheels come off the behavioral bus. Sometimes your child has a problem that needs to be addressed–a bad habit, an issue at school, a recurring tantrum–and nothing seems to remedy it. You’ve tried discussion, scolding, roleplays, space to decompress, but the problem still isn’t subsiding and the emotional temperature of the room keeps going up. In our house, when we get to this point, when everyone and every tactic has failed on our 4-year-old, we have one nuclear option and it works every time. We call it, “Mommy Magic.”

“Mommy Magic” might be called a “come to Jesus moment” in modern corporate parlance. It’s a calm, sober, sit-down with Mommy in the glider chair in our daughter’s bedroom, where Mommy … well, I guess she leads some kind of discussion … and when they reappear, everyone is feeling peaceful and there’s a plan to remedy the situation. “Mommy Magic” is a panacea.

You may be asking, “If you have a panacea, why don’t you always use it?” It’s the old mystery of “Why doesn’t Voltron form up and pull the sword at the beginning?” or Stephen Wright’s, “Why isn’t the whole plane made out of the black box material?” Well, we fear that Mommy Magic will lose effectiveness with overuse. We don’t know how deep the mojo bag goes.

I’m jealous of Mommy Magic. I don’t have it. If I did, it would probably have a different name. It’s not that I’m an emotionally distant dad, or quick to anger, or that I give off some sort of radiation that prohibits situational de-escalation. (I don’t think so, anyhow.) When I’ve failed and the magic works, it leaves me feeling like Fredo Corleone in “The Godfather: Part II”: “I can handle things. I’m smart. Not like everybody says, like dumb.”

I can cook. I can read stories with a charming array of voices. I can pour a mean invisible tea. I can do hair (ish). I can dance. I can do an impressive number of pull ups. (That doesn’t come into play very often.) But I can’t do Mommy Magic.

I’ve asked my wife what she does, and while she might be holding back from explaining the trick (always a no-no in a magic act), she swears it’s just a sit down. But it has to be in the glider, in the nursery, with Mommy. Did some sort of bond form in utero that allows this kind of communication? In utero was almost half a decade ago, does that bond still hold? Is it a gender thing? It’s not like I’m so painfully masculine that I can only model dinosaur bludgeoning skills. Or is the whole thing some kind of gaslighting? Are my daughter and wife conspiring to give me an inferiority complex?

Does this happen in your house? Is Mommy Magic universal? How does it work for you?

I’m happy we have Mommy Magic at our place. God knows we make good use of it. Just once, though, when the train is really off the tracks, I’d love to fix it with some Daddy Magic … but I haven’t learned the trick.

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