Parenting scares the stuffing out of me. It’s not because I’m afraid I can’t do it well (I can) or because it’s just plain hard (it is). My seemingly never-ending list of morbid parenting fears is courtesy of too many Law & Order Special Victims Unit reruns and twisted nightly news teases watched in my prior life. Not to mention Children of the Corn.
These encounters are mostly to blame for molding my mind into a dark cauldron of bubbling mishaps and malignancies waiting to happen. The rest I credit to my brother and sisters who, when we were little, took turns intermittently hiding in my closet, hurling open the doors and shrieking like the devil when I least expected it. Their torment turned me into a ball of nerves.
Even if I wasn’t already a nervous wreck, parenting would have turned me into one anyhow. Every single day you have to let go, defy your instincts and do things that make you quake and quiver on the inside.
Like putting your week old baby down for a nap that first time. Alone. Or leaving your infant with a brand new nanny for the first time. Alone. Or dropping your child off at preschool that first day. Alone. Or strapping a helmet on your five year old’s head for the first time and pushing him down an incline on a bicycle with no training wheels. Alone. Or letting your barely six and nine year olds walk home from the bus stop for the very first time. Alone.
Though these inevitable firsts feel so wrong, we don’t give in to our worries. We feel the fear and do it anyhow.
But if you’re anything like me then your mind races all the while with the perverse possibilities.
10 parenting fears that scare me shitless:
1. I’m afraid my kids will get run over by a bus—A 7-year old kid who I grew up with stopped to tie his shoe and was accidentally run over by his own bus driver while his Nanny watched helplessly from across the street. My kids are so terrified by my incessant retelling of this story; they refuse to walk in front of the bus. This eases my mind only slightly.
2. I’m afraid my kids will get run over by ME—We’ve all heard stories of parents who have accidentally run over their own kids. I had a rearview mirror back-up cam specially installed in my car. If it weren’t for this I don’t think I would ever get out of my garage.
3. I’m afraid my kids will get kidnapped—When I was 8 my mom told me that a man in a white van was suspected of kidnapping kids in our area from their front yards while they innocently played. She wanted us to beware. I was aware alright. So aware I developed recurring nightmares and never set foot on our play structure again.
4. I’m afraid my kids will choke to death—The likelihood of this happening is greatly reduced if you follow this one rule: Do not give your 2 year old child a Mentos. Especially while driving. Or you will have to Heimlich the candy out of his tiny little airway. Ask me how I know this.
5. I’m afraid my kids will have a freak accident—Grocery stores used to conjure visions of canned goods toppling down and burying my children alive. Last year while shopping at the local QFC, a rogue pumpkin caused my oldest son to lose his footing. This resulted in him falling on top of another pumpkin which he was holding in his hands, ultimately knocking one tooth out, fracturing another and chipping two more. You see, it’s not all in my head. Grocery stores really are dangerous. Pumpkins are downright lethal.
6. I’m afraid my kids will have brain damage—All three of my kids have either been dropped or fallen on their heads more times than I possibly care to count. For the record, it’s never been my fault. Each time their skulls succumb to an injury, I test their wits by demanding to know their name and the answer to a moderately difficult riddle of my choosing.
7. I’m afraid my kids will not come back from their field trips—Have you ever seen the masses of parents that chaperone these things? The more parents around, the greater the likelihood a child will be injured, maimed or mauled. Any mom or dad can attest to this fact. The surplus of adults gives us a false sense of security. Instead of watching our kids, we end up chatting with one another. While we’re busy talking grown-up, nobody is minding the kids and all hell breaks lose. In our home, we dress our kids in neon colored shirts on field trip days to tip the odds of their safe return slightly back in our favor.
8. I’m afraid my kids will leave one day—We have so much fun with our kids! They fill our house with such oomph and energy; it all but paralyzes me to know that they will move on one day.
9. I’m afraid my kids will turn evil and kill me in my sleep—I’ve heard crazy shit happens when they become teenagers. I already have a can of mace and one of those handy stabbing combs under my mattress. If they do indeed become teen-monsters, I will readily relinquish Fear #8.
10. I’m afraid my kids will be afraid of everything—I imagine you can plainly see why.