Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What Me?

Sometimes she is so cute I get angry.
First day of preschool. (In all honesty it is the second day of preschool as I forgot to take a photo on the first day, the beginning of a long tradition: second day school pictures.)

Safety pins, nuts, bees, string, buttons, paint, medicine, cars, bikes, jungle gyms, twirling, dancing, sleeping, water, earth, breathing, blood and oxygen. This is just a partial list of what can kill a child. Your child, my child, a child so perfect I get angry that the world itself does not match her.

Electrical outlets and plastic bags. I am not trying to scare you, but oleander, azalea, wisteria, even buttercup, a name so sweet it actually does catch flies. Poisonous flowers admired by a race with a 100% mortality rate, annual or perennial no matter. From the moment Zoey was born I have been picking up stray bobby pins from the carpet.

Shopping carts. Improper use of child seat can lead to head injury, even death. I need cereal, milk, pasta, and Zoey is so big now she likes to walk. Hold onto the cart, I tell her, capellini, fettuccini, fusilli, and when I turn around she is gone.

She is more likely to die of a heart attack. And yet I worry about the monster in the closet, on the corner, the monster in aisle 5 perusing the bread while wearing Dockers and a baseball hat. I am a worrier, always have been, wielding my power of what if. Of course this power is blunt, fuzzy, flaccid to be frank. I pick up bobby pins because they glint in the light; the man in aisle 5 does not even look up at me.

But what if is a question, and I don't want to parent in the unknown. How then do I mother in a world that at times seems so dark? 800,000 kids reported missing each year, 203,000 of which were family abductions, 58,000 non-family abductions, only 115 of which were stereotypical kidnappings. Somewhere in there is a number that is supposed to make me feel better, I think, a percent for the supposed masses like me who read People magazine. (But I am not a mass and my child is #1. A 1 in however many, I don't care, the solution to parenting not in denial but in acceptance of reality. Shopping carts kill.)

This is very hard for me, a woman who gets strength from worry. Nothing is more difficult than the powerlessness of parenting, plastic bags and marbles, chasing balls across the street. But what if is hardly preventative and worry is only the fear we manufacture. If I spend my time worrying then I miss that first day of preschool, the sundress she wore that reminds me of Fruit Stripes gum, how she came home chattering about her new friend named Ellie, a paper caterpillar colored red in one hand. Which is not to say that I have gone lax, but without imagined worry perhaps I will be more sensitive to sensing real danger.

Trans-fats and glycerides. She was in the cookie aisle all along.

I included this video because if anything ever does happen to my child I am totally tossing someone up in the air like this motherfucking water buffalo. Just sayin.'


Oonafey said...

Okay, I don't have a child, yet. BUT, I constantly worry about my dogs, my "babies" when I am not home. We live on a busy street and their father insists on treating them like people who actually listen to what he says. Every day that he beats me home I worry that I will come home to a dead dog in the street because he did not tie them up and expects them to stay where he tells them to. When he is late from work, or working on his motorcycle, I worry that he is on the side of the road somewhere... It drives him mad that I worry constantly, but what can you do?

Jules said...

Do you remember me telling you the story of my mom confronting those girls at my school who were mean to me and how embarrassed I was? The other day Mikey said some kids were laughing at him and made him sad...I almost got out of the car to kick some 5 year old kindergarten ass.

sarah said...

I don't have kids now, but I am neurotic as hell. God help me when I finally have children. I think I will live in a state of constant worry.

Cindy said...

My 3 death phobias:

1) Choking on food
2) Plastic over the head
3) Car crashing into the water followed by panic and drowning


And that video! I'm the furthest thing from Nature Girl, but I had NO IDEA that water buffaloes would gather together and retaliate like that! Go buffaloes!


Anonymous said...

From Jackie Chan look-alike:

This post reminds me of my Yaya (greek grandma). She once told my mom that she should remove the dog water dish from the floor so that none of us drowned in it. I gotta say, if one of us did that, it would be pretty Darwinian.
I'm not a "child person". Nor have I seen Zoey since she was a baby. Yet, she brings out that fiercely protective and fearful side of even me. She really is #1.

ZDub said...

I will cut a bitch if they ever mess with my children. Trust.

And I love Zoe's kicks.

Kwana said...

I'm like you such a worrier that it worries me and having a children has only amped that up. It's hard to stay calm. My kids are teens and I only worry more now so no advice from me.

That video was amazing. Thanks so much for it.

krista said...

she's so cute it kind of makes me angry, too.
and i'm always worried, too. so are you telling me this doesn't go away? crap.

3StinkyBoysAndMe said...

I never, ever, ever, ever worried about anything until I had children. Now, I'm just a huge pile of worry. It's horrible. I worry about all the things you mentioned plus a million more. I'm driving my husband (not to mention myself) crazy with all the worry. Ugh!