Yesterday Maisie, Scout and I went for a little hike. It was Maisie’s first time walking on her own through the woods. (It was also the first big test of the Crocs my mom bought her. The video shows how well that went.) As we walked I found myself doing a mental run-down of all the potential hazards along the way (something I’ve routinely done hundreds of times with other people’s children), and having relegated the task of clearing snakes from the trail to Scout, as she trotted along ahead of us, I was left to scrutinize the area for poison ivy. Then an approaching car added another potential hazard to my list. I rarely gave a second thought to those I encountered in the forests of Montana, but here, in such a highly populated area where few people venture onto the public lands, the only logical explanation for anyone other than the three of us to be at this trailhead is 1. to dump a body or 2. to steal my child. Paranoid, right? And based on exactly zero factual evidence. Especially silly when the other forest user caught up to us and turned out to be a middle-aged woman with two old mutts.
Nonetheless, as Maisie grows the dangers around her seem to as well. And I am not a fearful person. In spite of our culture’s best attempts to persuade me otherwise, I refuse to live a life of worry. I know that horrible things happen, and I know that at any time any one of those horrible things could happen to me or someone I care about. However, worry, as I once heard, is just interest paid on a debt that hasn’t occurred, so instead of dwelling on the unknown and the unsubstantiated I tend to focus on the factual.
I also believe that any child’s best chance of avoiding certain horrors comes with a combination of self-confidence and street smarts–both of which I will do my best to instill in Maisie. I hope, then, that she will be more like the 14-year-old behind the grocery store in our old neighborhood who fought off an attacker who tried to force her into his vehicle as she walked to school and less like the 14-year-old in Utah we’re all familiar with who went quietly with the man who abducted her from her bedroom with her sister present and her parents down the hall. Rest assured that I am not blaming the victim here. I am merely suggesting that the difference may lie with the parenting. Helicopter parenting, I suspect, leads to children/adults who lack problem-solving skills and street smarts. Age-appropriate freedom produces aware individuals who act on common sense and generally make wise decisions. (Here, “free-range” parenting proponent, Lenore Skenazy, speaks quite sensibly.)
This is all just food for thought, and I imagine a few of you are chomping at the bit to comment. Please do.
In all fairness I must admit that I am only human and therefore, have an irrational fear or two of my own. For years before I got pregnant I kicked around the possibility of not just having two babies born at the same time, but two babies born at the same time who were stuck together in some way. Yes, I fear creating, gestating, birthing and caring for conjoined twins. Seriously. I suppose in some ways it seems like the worst kind of torture to be connected to someone else for life. And now that I have my own conjoined twin of sorts–a little smaller, a little stickier–I am certain that this type of malformation is no way to go.