Either I have an anxiety disorder, or you all are awfully cavalier. Everywhere I look I see parents walking around not in a constant state of near-panic. What is wrong with you people?
I may be biased, but I’m the mother of two extraordinary children. Luke, as maddening as he can be, is the most generous and thoughtful person I know. I’ve seen him literally give the shirt off his back and I’ve seen him cry at another’s misfortune. He also experiences the world through all caps and excessive exclamation points. He’s not happy; he’s HAPPY!!! Combined with his wonderful empathy, he’s often HAPPY!!! for you, which makes him a very special little boy. If life is to be lived to the fullest, he is LIVING IT TO THE FULLEST by experiencing it all more forcibly than the rest of us do. He is an all around great guy, and fantastic husband and father in the making.
Sally has the happiest disposition. She doesn’t complain, is easygoing, and really just wants to hug you and pat your back in between stretches of happily playing independently. She is freaking adorable and is a genuine joy to be around. She may spend most of her time dressed in princess attire, but she’ll trade out her tiara for a helmet to ride her bike over the ramp with the big kids, and she schools kids twice her size as she jumps into the deep end at the Y. She is awesome. She’s the chick I want to be friends with. (When she grows up. I do not want to be friends with any 4-year-old.)
And this is why I’m certain that something tragic will happen to one of them. Terrible things always happen to the best, most special people. You never hear of the just average guy who died tragically in a fiery crash at the tender age of 16. No. That guy is always the one who befriended the social outcasts, despite being a popular star athlete himself, started community outreach programs, and saved a truck of orphan puppies from falling into a mine shaft which then led directly into the state closing down the evil puppy killing mine crime ring.
While you sit and enjoy the movie, I’m playing out scenarios in my head wondering how quickly I can get both kids on the ground under me, and if the shooter might come from the front or behind us. While you browse in Target, I’m eyeing the shelves and exits, debating the merits of hiding vs. running. I wonder how I’ll tell my kids to run out of the house without alerting the murderous intruder of their presence. I calculate how I’ll unstrap my kids, (which one first?) from the car as it sinks into freezing water. Which of my children’s friends will want to show off his father’s gun to a tragic end? Who will bully my kids into depression and suicide before I even realize there’s a problem? And, finally, when will I learn of the cancer?
It’s not just the kids. Unfortunately, my husband is also a great guy. His drive to work isn’t long but he’s out there with the distracted texters and the drunk assholes and the black ice. It’s just a matter of time. And when is his cancer diagnosis coming down the pike?
I am not a particularly fantastic person, so I’m probably safe. Then again, it could be me. The lives of my husband and kids could turn tragic by my cancer diagnosis, run in with a shooter, or highway encounter with a texting stoned teenager.
I’ve lived my life until now relatively unscathed. Nothing terrible happened to any members of my innermost circle while I was growing up. So am I due? Of course I’ve lost people along the way, some before their time and/or after long, protracted illnesses. Lately, I’ve watched in fear and horror as kids lose parents, parents lose children, young couples lose each other. Every news story of entire families killed, lunatics with a grudge taking out crowds, tragic accidents of kids killing kids… these all are filed away in my mind, filling me with dread and anxiety, keeping me up at night and rising to my consciousness in every crowded public place. I might think of Newtown every single day I send my children to school.
I know that you all watch the news and know people who have faced the unthinkable too, and yet you seem so calm and well rested. Sure, statistics are in my favor with regards to shootings, kidnappings, home invasions, driving off bridges, etc, but my kids fit the profile. They have that something extra. That intangible goodness that Billy Joel warned us about. Also, importantly, and despite all my efforts, they are stupid. They are going to make a ton of bad choices and so will their idiot friends. (Your kids. No offense.) So I’m sentenced to a life of panic for my extraordinary, and stupid, children. How can you be calm at a time like this?