Walking the line

I don’t talk about parenting here much — it’s never being a choice NOT to do so, it’s just that it’s not something that I do.  But Manly and I just had a conversation that is making me think.

It fucking snowed here on Sunday night — about 8″ here at our house.  I know you Northerners are laughing at my panic, but we don’t DO snow here.  There are no plows, there is no salt, there is NOTHING to do except wait for it to melt.  Manly, being Manly and not from roundt heah, shoveled our driveway, cleared the cars, and melted the ice on our walk with hot salted water yesterday.  Today, he wanted some beef to add to the venison stew we started yesterday (we ended up not having as much meat as we thought), and so he set out to go to Mal-Wart.  And he wanted to take the boy. 

And I wanted to know what the fuck he was thinking, what if something happened and he had to carry him home in the cold?

Y’all, the store is two? miles away? Maybe?  It’s not a trek.  They would be fine if they, on the very off chance that something bad happened, had to walk home.

So the conversation ensued, and too-personal family references were dropped, and I was made to realize the depth of my crazy.  It wasn’t an argument and he was as nice as he could be in that you’re-being-a-paranoid-freak-and-it-is-really-not-that-bad-it’s-only-snow-for-god’s-sake tone and I promptly recognized my error and backed down.  And we bundled up the boy (who REALLY wanted to get out of the house and go with his dad), and they left.

But one of the things that was brought up is really bothering me.  Part of my fear/paranoia/crazy is the way I was raised — it was TAUGHT to me, with no real basis in reality.  And no, it’s not just the snow.  I tend to over-react to risk in life (risk of every kind and flavor) and take the safest path available.  It helps me be a good engineer, but I’m not convinced that it’s the best trait to have as a parent.  In most day-to-day cases, I’m able to recognize that it is a learned behavior and deal with it in a rational way.  But it’s something I have to work at overcoming.  The whole snow variable simply overwhelmed my ability to deal because it is a situation that happens so infrequently and I panic.

This is NOT something that I want to teach Mini.  This is NOT something that Manly wants me to teach Mini.  We want to teach him to recognize risks, assess them realistically, and take the appropriate cautionary measures — but to remain curious and adventurous and willing and able to have fun.

So my issue really breaks down into three things.  First, how do I raise my son to be the kind of person we want him to be, when I am not that kind of person myself?  Second, I MUST trust my husband’s judgement about the boy more — I know what kind of father he is and I don’t worry at all when they are out together.  But when I am there with them, I just can’t. let. go.  And last, I am still so scared that I am going to lose him.  At this point, the chance of him dying is the same as any other child, and it’s something that I have to learn to just deal with.  But I have so much fear built up from the last few years, I just want to swaddle him up in bubble wrap and put him on a shelf to keep him safe.  And that’s not fair to either of us.

Gah.  Just when I think I’m making headway on this whole “being a better person” thing, another set of issues bubbles up from the depths.


4 thoughts on “Walking the line

  1. And see, these are the posts I love. This is the stuff I struggle with, too; seeing that I’m not alone.

    Honstly, I feel like, as parents, we all have our neuroses in terms of the things we worry about. My best friend’s is going to the beach – she’s terrified of a riptide that will drag her two year old out to see. Even though, well, two year olds NEVER go into the water without intense parental supervision.

    For me? It’s letting O go down the stairs on his own. Even though he is almost THREE. And a really cautious kid. And he’s at the age where he’ll YELL at us if we try and accompany him on the stairs. “NO Mommy. YOU stay DOWNSTAIRS. I do this all by myself.”

    You’re right. It IS learned behavior, fear. But the good news is that when you realize it, you CAN start to let go whenever you react irrationally. You have a wonderful husband who can tell you nicely that you might be overreacting. And eventually, Mini will speak up for himself and TELL you that he can do something you don’t think he can do.

    So really, all you need to do is be aware of it and keep listening to both Manly and Mini, you know?

    Just my two cents. But I can identify with EVERYTHING you posted above.

    (Well, maybe the fear of snow part – I do live in MA, where they’re better at clearing it.)


  2. G and i divide like you do : i am the paranoid control freak and he isnt. Maybe this is in part a man/woman thing? I could have echoed most of what you say in your post. My fear is drowning. It is ridiculous in that I don’t let them near pools or the sea or rivers etc unsupervised. I have anxiety dreams involving water too so I assume it is just a metaphor for my fears generally that I might lose them. I do try and temper it and not let them know my anxiety plus they have all been swimming with me since tiny babies so I hope I am reinforcing the good stuff. There are however areas where I am more happy go lucky than some of my friends like on travel on public transport, climbing frames, taking them camping and on exotic holidays so I hope that they do get a modicum of sensible risk taking.

  3. “Just when I think I’m making headway on this whole “being a better person” thing, another set of issues bubbles up from the depths.”

    But you are making headway. Why? Because you realize that it’s something you need to work on, and you are actively trying to work on it. Because you realized during the discussion that you were having said issue and were willing to admit to it. They say the first step is admitting you have a problem – or an issue – and it’s true. You can’t work on it if you don’t acknowledge it! You can do this, it’s just going to take time.

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