As the superhero story goes, the X-Men are a group of people with various X-gene mutations that give them EX-tra powers, and (while battling an assorted bunch of X-rivals) they endeavor to use these powers for the good of humanity.

Robin Conte is a writer and mother of four who lives in Dunwoody. She can be contacted at

I have noticed that a bit of X-gene activity seems to have occurred in my own family, but our genes have mutated to powers of questionable worth.

We are a bunch of the worst X-Men, ever.

My youngest is Massive Toe-Gap Boy. You could park a car in the space between his first two toes. He uses this Massive Gap to stow his snacks and carry small appliances from room to room. If he keeps his socks on, he can smuggle a two-liter bottle of water onto an airplane.

His twin also has a toe mutation. He is Lethal Toenail Boy. The nails of his big toes grow into virtual talons that will ruin floors and furniture and inflict stealth wounds when he walks around barefoot. If he ever finds himself stuck in a Moroccan prison, he can file his way out with his toenails.

My daughter is Reflexio. She has the most coveted and useful ability in the family. She can knock a wine glass off a shelf and dive to the ground before it breaks, all in less time than it takes me to finish my first curse word. She can catch any falling object from within an inch of its life — saving not only the object, but the skin of every sibling in the room.

My oldest son is Viral Facial Hair Man. He has the ability to grow facial hair at superhuman speed … at viral video speed. He is very proud of this power because he thinks it’s rather manly. So, he’d prefer to be known as Virile Viral Facial Hair Man. Apparently, there is no barbershop where he lives, because he came home for Christmas looking like a small fur-bearing animal had died on his face. You could find his eyes only if you approached him slowly with a flashlight and a hand rake.

I am Barometric Sinus Mom. I can predict the weather by the condition of my nasal passages. If I go through a box of Kleenex in less than eight hours, that means it’s going to rain. If I walk around all day rubbing my face and honking, a cold front is moving in. And if I’m curled up on the couch beneath a blanket, nursing a cup of hot tea, breathing through my mouth and completely miserable, you’d better bring in your pets and head to the basement because there’s a storm a-comin’.

And my husband? He’s Obliviman, of course. (Aren’t they all?) He has the ability to tune out an entire family dinner conversation of five people debating the lyrics of the latest Taylor Swift song by merely looking at his Android. Even more impressively, he can appear perfectly attentive and alert as I spend 15 minutes presenting a detailed rundown of our weekend schedule, while he in fact has zero idea of what I am saying and will ask me to repeat the entire thing as soon as I’ve finished.

Put us all together and you will not have a team that will save the world. But in our own EX-tra mutant way, we make our little corner of it a bit more normal.

Robin Conte

Robin Conte lives with her husband in an empty nest in Dunwoody. To contact her or to buy her new column collection, “The Best of the Nest,” see