Parenting is scary. Most parents are, on the inside, a quivering mass of semi-irrational fears. My husband is afraid of crossing the street. There’s a name for it, he’s dromophobic. When we cross as a family, it’s a dramatic undertaking, involving terse instructions and white knuckles. He insists on holding both children’s hands, being skeptical of my own ability to get myself over the pedestrian crossing, let alone taking on the responsibility of the life of one of our children. Heaven knows how I actually manage to cross the street, with the children, without him. He’d rather not think about it.
I would be a little offended by the whole scenario, except that I get it. I have a comparable fear of swing sets (for which there is no fancy title, apparently — I’d call it swingerphobia, but that might confuse people). Who puts their child on a strip of rubber suspended from two chains, with no seat belt, straps or other safety features, and shoves them eight feet into the air at an angle nearing 180 degrees, for FUN? Well, I do. But I’m not happy about it — and I’m scared to death every time I do an underdog that I’m going to knock myself out. If I could stuff them into the marginally safer baby swings for the rest of their life, I would.
I’m also terrified of motorcycles (motorcyclophobia, don’t you know), which you wouldn’t think would be a problem with pre-school aged children, except that my three-year-old dare-devil has regular tantrums over the fact that I won’t get him one (“I won’t fall off, Mommy, I won’t!!”). No wonder my blood pressure almost doubled when I was pregnant with him. Throw in some concerns about whether my children will be permanently scarred by the 12 seconds of the Paranormal Activity Two commercial they saw on t.v., whether I’ve foreshortened their career trajectory because the local kindergarten gets mixed reviews, and whether they will inherit my amblyopia (phenomenally poor depth perception — particularly unlucky in a motorcyclist), and it begins to make sense why most teenagers come to the conclusion that their parents are crazy. Which we are, really.
What semi-irrational fear of yours is just grounded enough in reality to drive you a wee bit around the bend?
Bio: Peryl Manning is a freelance writer and stay-at-home-mother to two small boys. She juggles her home and her boys, her writing, and her volunteer work with varying degrees of success, and is convinced of only one certainty: Parenting is really, really challenging. Since being blindsided and overwhelmed, overjoyed and then at times underwhelmed by the whole business of motherhood, she has had a lot to say about it, and says some of it here. ’Parenting ad absurdum’ is now on Twitter:@momadabsurdum. Should I be following you? Let me know! And if you would like to be on my highly classified secret double-lockdown mailing list to be advised of new posts, leave a note or send an email to parentingadabsurdum AT gmail DOT com. Visit http://blog.seattlepi.com/parentingadabsurdum/ .
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Photo credit: Double Line by Peter Griffin