Fun fact: I am a huge worry-wart. I don’t mean your typically parenting worries, either. Nope, I worry about basically everything. I’m talking about unreasonable, ridiculous things that there is almost no chance whatsoever of happening to my kids or anyone else I know. Intellectually, I know this. But emotionally, it’s hard to swallow.
Below are some of the inexplicable, unlikely and sometimes silly things that petrify me as a parent.
4. Choking on basically anything
My youngest child is now three, going on four, and yet I am still insanely worried about him choking on basically everything he eats. I still cut up his grapes, hot dogs, cantaloupe, strawberries, etc. If it’s not already bite sized, chances are I cut that shit up. I didn’t stop doing this for my other kids until they were at least four. Hell, they were cutting up their own damn foods and pushing me away before I stopped doing it.
3. Getting hit by a car
Much like the one above, this is a rational fear that I’ve just taken to the next level. In my defense, I did witness my 16-year-old cousin get hit by a car right in front of me, and it’s stayed with me all these years later. Crossing the street with all three kids here in NYC where I live is an anxiety attack waiting to happen.
2. Random act of violence
Being an American, this honestly wasn’t something I put a lot of thought into growing up. All that changed on September 11, 2001 when I, along with nine million other New Yorkers (and the rest of the world) witnessed 9-11. A close friend of my family died that day, and it forever instilled in me a fear of something like that happening again in my hometown. Obviously, it happens in other parts of the world every single day, a fact that I am well aware of, and you can’t go a day without reading about it or seeing it on the news. I think about this every time I take my kids on the subway, or on the bus, or into a crowded shopping mall.
When I was six or seven, my family and I were visiting some relatives in Kansas. We were staying at a motel, and I got separated from my grandparents for a few minutes. A lovely looking couple came up to me and asked me if I wanted to go back to their room and see their dog. Being a kid, I said yes, and started walking with them. We got right outside of their door when my grandfather caught up to us. The scariest part of this? When they opened the door, there was no dog. According to my grandparents later on, the couple swore that I had been mistaken, but I remember distinctly what they said. Were they trying to kidnap me? Who knows. This was the 1980’s, well before Amber Alerts or even decent security cameras. Still, intellectually, I understand that in general, kids are way more likely to be victimized by someone they know. But that moment stayed with me, and allowing my kids the freedom that they deserve has been an uphill battle for their entire lives. I don’t keep them in a bubble, but dammit if the desire to isn’t there.