So, the first-grader was less than pleased last night with my effort as a goalkeeper to stop her sister’s shot.
“It’s like you’re scared of it, dad!” she said with disdain and disbelief. (Star players sometimes have precious little tolerance for the everyman on the roster). No no no. I can make a remarkable save now and again.
But sometimes, the mind moves quicker than the feet.
And the hands. But usually not the tongue. That’s fodder for another story. “Dad’s not scared of ANYTHING,” I declare with a boom. “Not anything??” she asked, unbelieving. If you only knew, honey.
Know what scares me?
Not for me. But for you kids. I know it sounds silly, but every time we go to Charleston, or any town with a big bridge, I have a nightmare that night. You girls cross it by yourselves, hand in hand, while skies threaten storms, through angry, unrelenting traffic.
Probably with snipers lying in wait, resentful poisonous snakes and oakland raiders fans with weapons and bad attitudes just beyond my scope. Not to mention mean-spirited jellyfish and hungry sharks and really sharp pieces of glass waiting in the waters below.
I wonder in my sleep – where am I? Why am I not with you at a time like that?
I’ve touched on this one, but yeah. When you were toddlers, I’d walk around the little structure, all its steps and poles and slides, and walkways, just to see that you were safe.
It probably looked ridiculous from afar. Things only got worse as you got bigger, and moved to the bigger playgrounds. They seemed three, four stories tall, with no abundance of guard rails.
Watch Dad circle the structure like a clown firefighter waiting for you to fall. A shade or three beyond silly, I realize.
Marie is highly allergic. We check labels, ask restaurant owners about peanut oil, and survey any picnic spot for empty peanut shells or open containers of peanut butter.
When Marie was first diagnosed, I had nightmares. The common thread: She couldn’t breathe, and I couldn’t help her.
Her own peace with the condition and her sisters’ hyper-vigilance about all things peanut have eased those fears and stopped the nightmares. But I’ll never rest easy.
4. Being late for games.
This annoys the kids. I feel the need to be on the playing grounds (they hate also when I use this term and not ‘soccer field’) an hour prior to game time, although I admit this happens about as often as I eat a salad before I eat pizza (the land of good intentions).
A coach should check the field for dangerous spots and be on hand to greet his mighty warriors, have cones lined up and balls pumped and goalkeeper shirt pressed and ready for battle.
Or, in my case, to have a snack, get the bench I want and wait for Jesus or Allah to give me a sign whether we’re going to win that day. But mostly to have a snack.
5. My pants falling down.
It’s quite a well-founded fear. I always tie my soccer-pants drawstrings extra tight on game day, after Grace, um, exposed her daddy between the third and fourth quarters on a fateful Saturday morning.
And just in case, I try to always wear my most appropriate/visually appealing drawers.
6. Disney Channel/Nickelodeon.
I fear shows that depict kids who smart off to dim-witted parents, choose to do whatever they want to get whatever they want, and usually with little to no consequence.
Of course, we had this too, in the day, with Silver Spoons and Diff’rent Strokes, but we came out all right, right?
I praise Opie for every “yes, pa!” on the Andy Griffith Show or Beaver Cleaver’s “yes sir!” on Leave It To Beaver. The damage of I-carly and the bratty wizards from Waverly Place has been done.
I have the eye rolls to prove it.
I’d categorize rhinos on the charge, women on the go in really tiny heels, and any form of space matter that crashes to earth in this department, too: Any threat to their bodies that I could at least cushion the blow with my own body.
A natural airbag/safety barrier/chew toy for any oncoming threat.
Kids their age are tender to meteorites and tasty to angry dogs and pachyderms.
8. My girls, dating.
9. My girls, blogging. Someday.
OK, so I just acquired this one, while I wrote this post. I thought about their stories about me being mad or mischievous out there in the blogosphere without an opportunity to edit or correct or cover my assets.
To hear, “wow, did you see what you kid blogged about today??” Getting a forward with a note of sympathy, or a look from a co-worker that tells me she knows more than she should, and isn’t glad about it.
Hopefully it isn’t about the time they walked across the Charleston bridge alone while I sat in the hotel and wrote on my blog …
Great read! I fear bridges and the kids’ shows, too and I’ve watched so much Animal Planet, wild animals on the loose. I’ve had actual nightmares of lions and tigers roaming free, my kids going for a closer look and me not understanding why I’m the only one afraid. I cannot wait until you are ready to talk about the “pants falling down” episode. It sounds hilarious and the fact that you aren’t ready yet, makes it funnier.
Thanks! All we need is a tiger coming at our kidlets on a bridge with that little brother from “Good Luck Charlie” on his back to complete our personal hell, I believe. My oldest was more afraid of Tony the Tiger than an actual bengal when she was little. The pants will fall when they’re meant to.
I’ve shared it elsewhere, but I must consider the tenderness of my new readership’s eyes and memory first.
Children are tasty…ok I laughed, but I have that fear as well.
My kids know Mommy gets scared (point proved by a manic rabid jumping cricket) and all I’m trying to teach them is we can be bigger than our fears (especially armed with a big shoe)
My biggest fear is not being able to ease my child’s pain. I walked them through grief when their dad died and I had to face that fear of I can’t make it better. I fear those moments when they plead for me to make the hurt go away and I know that I can’t.
Until those moments, I fear dingos running off with my smaller children and runaway cabooses on the train tracks.
Your fears are profound, and are in your experience, too. Having to work through fear together seems to help you manage it together – I first typed ‘conquer,’ but I know better.
I don’t fear dingos as much here in the states, but the possibilities that opossums might carry the kids away and show them a better life scares the bejeezus out of me.
Agreed. A marsupial’s life has ensnared many a lost child into its alluring grip and powerful illusion of grandeur.
I knew a koala once who really took exception to that reputation, but she’d also admit it’s true. It just is.
My kids would want to be a koala, until they realized they’d be eating veggies for every meal and ham sandwiches were out of the question.
I had some similar fears with my kids when they were young. Heck, I wouldn’t let them go to the park alone near our house until they were 16! But honestly, there are a lot more dangers on the internet than anything else…not that I am trying to give you extra stuff to be paranoid about, or anything…