As my birthday approaches I’ve found myself thinking more and more about youth. College kids look younger than I remember. High school kids look like they don’t care about anything at all. Elementary school kids look like they bite. Toddlers look cuter than I remember. Babies are still scary. And I just saw a 3D sonogram the other day – that is the coolest, grossest thing I’ve seen all year. Times are a-changing!
In sum, the world seems a scarier place than when my mom was my age and decided she was ready to have me. I’m thinking long and hard about who my future children will become, the world they will grow up in, who their peers will be, and who among you will be their mentors. And I wonder if, as an intelligent person and mindful individual, you ever feel comfortable bringing an innocent life into this world. There are the universal insecurities of parenting: the selfishness, the financial instability, the definitive reality that you’ll screw up your child somehow. There are the choices you must make that you can’t guarantee will turn out well: what color to paint the nursery, which school to send them to, what tactic of discipline will both allow you to control your child and to stay out of jail. Aside from these communally shared concerns, I’ll offer my own tailor-made top 5 child-rearing fears now, well before I’m confronted with the reality of having kids of my own to mess up or dump at your house at will.
1- No Newtown: Seriously, how do you avoid Raising Adam Lanza? I read Lionel Shriver’s “We Need to talk about Kevin” and I was ready to get my tubes tied. The lack of support some parents have to take care of their ‘special needs’ child is just sad. But when your child is a danger to others, where does parenting end and protecting the public begin? And how is it done? Successfully? I want to raise children that are neither victims, nor perpetrators of violence. It seems there is no money back guarantee on this one.
2- “I wish you have a daughter like you.” Signed, MOM: My mother has wished that ill omen on me since I was in elementary school, but frankly I don’t want a kid like me – or my brother. My brother and I are not alike in most things, but if I spawned a child like either one of us then that means that I will have to be on my toes every day for the rest of their lives. There will be no days off. They would either be a constant prankster who always needs hands-on parental oversight OR an aloof nerd whose quiet plotting means that they are perpetually homeless from the age of puberty onward. Actually, both types of kids sound equally sucky to parent. I sure wouldn’t want that job!
3- R. Kelly would be dead if Aaliyah were my child: Not all child rapists, molesters or predators are as well as known or as sleazy to the sight as R. Kelly. Most live amongst us as friends, family members, and trusted members of our community. Have you ever actually looked up the sex offender registry in your city? It’s frightening! What’s more frightening is that “One researcher stated that more than 70% of abusers are immediate family members or someone very close to the family.” I fully intend to cause bodily harm to anyone who dares to…. Whew! Just thinking about it makes me want to move below the Mason Dixon, so I can shoot someone with my legally owned and registered shotgun!
4- Let them eat cake?: My food restrictions being as they are, I am conscious of the fact that what I think is healthy for me is not the most conventional diet for a child. Sure, I can Vitamix their raw food smoothies, but kids need cow’s milk every once in a while. I probably bought a total of 4 gallons of cow’s milk in the last 2 years – 3.5 were used for baked goods for colleagues and the other .5 were consumed by any number of foreign visitors squatting in my guest room. I’ll have to reintroduce dairy, meat and rice to my fridge; adjust for the lack of calcium, iron and Vitamins B, C and D in my diet; and reduce my intake of tuna, coffee, dark chocolate, spiked cider, wine and processed foods (even if they are Trader Joe’s brand). Argh!
5- Keep the ole’ ticker ticking why dontcha!: In the last 5 years, both my grandfathers have passed away. So I’m concerned that I may not pop these babies out in a timely enough fashion such that they’ll have the benefit of knowing their great grandmothers. I had the benefit of growing up with the women who mothered my grandmothers and it’s really important to me that I give my children that possibility as well. I pray for my grandmothers’ health, not just for my unborn children’s sake – but I get the feeling that they’re not done teaching and I’m not done learning from them just yet.