Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A mother's logic

“You never stop worrying about them,” my 80-some-year-old grandfather told me one day during a conversation about parenting.

Even though I’m relatively new at this whole mommying thing, I can see what he means. For the entire first year of Ladybug’s life, I was terrified of naps and bedtime. To me, it was a game of Russian roulette with SIDS.

When Ladybug passed the 12-month mark, I breathed a sigh of relief. But of course there was always something new waiting to replace it – a fear of her choking as she moved to table food, a worry of furniture toppling on her as she learned to climb, an obsession with car safety as we increased our outings. I even insisted the sheriff’s office examine the placement of Ladybug’s car seat even though I knew my husband had installed it correctly.

I’ll admit, sometimes my fears for Ladybug’s well-being are seemingly irrational – like postponing our walk around the block because school was getting out and the neighborhood would be overrun with kids, some of them not so nice. But then I see the weekend headline “High-schoolers charged with battery of elementary kids” in Pleasant Hill, and I don’t feel so overprotective.

I don’t know the details of the case other than the four paragraphs that appeared in the paper. Basically three high school girls are accused of scratching three young children during a run-in in the bathroom of an elementary school. What the older girls were doing there and what prompted the incident wasn’t addressed in the article. But frankly, I don’t need to know the details to justify my concern about Ladybug’s safety.

I know my logic seems way out there. After all, Ladybug is 19 months old and constantly under my supervision. And I’m an adult, at least twice the age of most high schoolers. In a normal world, I should be able to protect her from an older kid gone astray. And why would anyone pick on a toddler anyway?

But you never know. There are still a few neighborhood teens angry at my husband and me after we caught them in the act of vandalizing street signs and chastised them. After the very disrespectful mouthing they gave us, they stalked us during our walk around the block, running off only when we got to our yard.

It’s a shame that we have to live life always assuming the worst, looking over our shoulders and taking precautionary measures against the stupidity of others. Now that I’m a mother, I can understand some of the decisions my parents made while I was growing up, even though I wasn’t exactly their number-one fan at the time.

Right now, with Ladybug still learning to talk, she can’t question my decisions. But there will come a day when she will challenge me on my actions and wonder why I’m being so ridiculous, just as I did with my parents.

“You’ll understand when you have children,” my mom always said to me.

For her safety, I hope it doesn’t take Ladybug that long to figure it out.

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