I don’t know about you, but as a parent, I ALWAYS consider the worst case scenario. Actually…as an adult I have to imagine that you HAVE to consider the worst case scenario in order to survive these days. With the news being what it is and our world becoming smaller & smaller, it’s hard NOT to. A quick look at AOL news this morning came up with these headlines for Thursday, September 8th (my brother’s birthday by the way. Happy Birthday Frank!)…
“Arrest Made In Missing Student Case”
“New Clue In Search For Teacher”
“Man Arrested In Sex Captive Horror”
Our news is always peppered with horror stories of kidnapping, killing, rape, pillaging and this particular week, stories about 9/11. It’s hard raising 2 kids in these kinds of conditions, especially when we were raised in times that were just SOOOOO much different than they are now. I remember when I used to ride my bike miles from home. I’d ride late at night…on the freeway…wearing dark colors…and never had a concern in the world about it. Was it dumb? At the time, no. We also rode without bike helmets, rode unbuckled in the car, hitchhiked across the country and left our doors unlocked at night. Back then there were only a few channels on tv and our news consisted of the local news coverage and the network news at 6pm.
Now it’s an onslaught. We can’t stop the terrible news that we hear. And for a parent, I hear all the horrible stories that involve kids. Missing kids, kids killing kids, kids bullying kids, kids involved in sex trades, kids that are abused, kids that are lost, kids that were playing with a loaded handgun when it went off, kids that the parents left alone in their home alone for 5 minutes and then they fell out of an upstairs window, kids doing dumb things, kids doing smart things then going to a party and ending up getting shot by a random drive-by shooting. You name it…after working in the television news industry as long as I did and now with the information highway being as accessible as it is, there are horror stories upon horror stories that filter down into my mind, creating worry and doubt and popping up in my worst nightmares.
Without considering that there are at least a thousand GOOD stories that go with each bad one, you have to consider the worst case scenario now…every time you open your door. And I do. I think about it every morning when I drop my kids off at school (“12 Children Killed In School Rampage“), I think about it every time I get on a plane (“Russian Plane Crash Kills Hockey Players“), I think about it every time I leave my kids with someone else or when they go outside to play (“19-Year-Old Indicted For Alleged Molestation Of Neighbor Kids“) and the headlines go on & on.
These days you have GOT to consider the worst case scenario but when is enough enough? I’ve found myself waking in the middle of the night, my mind racing as I can remember the ending to whatever dream I might have been having. My dreams used to be filled with darkness of a different kind. I could sleep through the night not concerning myself with thoughts of violence or anger. Before I felt in control of my life, even when it was really kind of stagnant. Now that I’m older and I have responsibilities, I am feeling pressure. I feel pressure at work, I feel pressure at home. I feel pressure to be a good husband, a good father, a good friend, a good neighbor. I feel as though I am racing from place to place, earning my dollar and then hurrying to another place to be with my family, meanwhile forgetting something or someone. The carousel never stops and in between there are these horrific stories, stories that I never could believe could actually happen. Just horrific stories and they find their way into my head, poking me whenever I take my kids to a crowded amusement park or to a football game. They ask me if they can go with their friends? Can they go get an ice cream cone? Can they borrow a dollar and go get some candy? They’ll be right back, of course. Or will they? In my head I am swimming against a current of overwhelming horror stories. Am I going crazy? Or am I just over-reacting?
Last night Steph and I were watching a romantic comedy called “The Switch.” In it, Jennifer Aniston has a 7-year old son that, at one point in the movie, walks 10 blocks in New York City alone to see Jason Bateman’s character. In my head, I was thinking to myself that there would be no way I would allow that to happen. No way could my son (who is 9 at this point) find his way in New York City to find my apartment. He would be lost forever. Someone would take him. Or he would get hit by a speeding taxi that hopped the curb at a stoplight. At this moment those are the 3 worst case scenarios that I can come up with but those should suffice.
Needless to say, this is a sad state to be in, this constant friction of wanting my kids to grow up and be healthy and happy and knowledgeable about this world that we live in and the fear that this world can really suck sometimes and horrible things happen to wonderful people at some of the most inopportune times. As a famous person once said…”Shit Happens.” And in that there is truth. But it’s the unbelievable stuff, the stuff buried on page 9 of your local paper, the stuff that no one wants to read, hear or see that pilfers into my thoughts, scrambling my hopes & dreams. The information highway is a great tool but at some point I have to say I’ve had enough. Too many terrible things, too few genuinely fantastic things to clear my mind and allow it to open up to let the sun shine in.
I say I’m a pessimistic optimist and to some degree that is true. But for whatever reason lately, the worst case scenario has replaced all the good possibilities and it scares me that I need to prepare myself for whatever bad might happen. If something bad DOES happen, please let it be something small. For example, this numbness & tingling in my right foot. If my sciatica issue is going to remain a constant in my life, I would gladly take it if it means my family remains healthy and happy for the rest of their lives. I wonder if that’s the rub. You think about how lucky you are. You’ve lived a healthy life. You’ve lived an honest life. You’ve done nothing wrong and then BAM! The worst case scenario happens and then all of a sudden your life is on pins & needles. I think about that every day.
So you decide, dear reader. Am I crazy? Am I preparing myself for something that is inevitable. Or am I just driving myself crazy. Deal with it when it comes my way. I have to imagine that is when it would hurt the most though, wouldn’t you think? Blindsided by something that you have no control over. That would lead to madness, I imagine. And I don’t need that kind of illness.
Of course all of this is just to make you think. What is the worst thing that has ever happened to you? How did you handle it? Did it rip your life apart? Were you able to put it back together again? Are you still dealing with the issues? So many horrible things happen every day and the media is there to tell us all about it. Of course…they are also quite obsessed with Beyonce’s baby bump. So maybe I am letting this crap get to my head a little bit too much…
Anyway…don’t wanna be Debbie Downer but if you are a parent like myself who is just a little bit crazy (or at least MAKING myself crazy at times), there are hundreds of books and websites that you can use (Stranger Danger is one of them). Dunno what has gotten into me here lately but I just thought I would vent a little, get it out there and see what others happen to think. It’s a harsh world we live in these days. No more hitchhiking, no leaving the house door unlocked. This ain’t the 70’s. But I have to believe that in all the muck and madness there is goodness still. I see it every day in the people I know and the friends I keep. Together we attempt to raise our kids in the best way we know possible. And if that means I am the one who shoulders all the bad things, then so be it. I just want my kids to have as happy a life as my parents gave me when I was their age. It’s not a lot to ask of a parent, I don’t think. But I’ll be damned if the thoughts don’t always cross my mind, trying to plan ahead, looking for that worst case scenario that COULD possibly happen.
And then it doesn’t. And I can breath again.