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Thursday, April 21, 2011


It's Your Kids, Marty! Something Has to Be Done About Your Kids!

When you're trying to have a kid, you have some vague sense that your life will change. You have lived childless up to a certain point and you know things will be different to some degree, but there's no real concrete knowledge of what lies ahead. There can't be. You haven't experienced parenthood, so there's no way to know what it will be like for you. It's like a hearing person vaguely thinking about what it'd be like to be deaf.

Not that I'm equating parenting with hearing loss. Bear with me a moment.

I'm sure that anyone trying to become a parent has read enough or talked to enough people with kids that they know that you worry about the child. You worry when he's crying and you don't know why. You worry when he has a fever. These are things that are scary when the kid is brand new, but it's stuff you get used to.

The type of worry I wasn't prepared for, and the type of worry I've been having lately, is the worry about what type of person my kid is going to turn out to be.

I have had near-panic attacks that my kid is going to grow up into someone screwed up. This could be because I'm looking at myself and my own failures and freaking out that I'll pass them on to him. This could be because I'm working this year with some students who have a shit-ton of issues and are so very, very difficult to deal with because of that. This could be because my kid is two and a half and I worry that every shrieking fit or refusal to do what Mommy and Daddy ask him to do means that he's got Oppositional-Defiant Disorder or something.

Let me pause here to state for the record that my kid is awesome. He really is. He's so smart. He's funny; not just silly in the generic toddler way, but actually possessing what appear to be comedy chops. He's very sweet and helpful and outgoing and charming. He's fantastic.

This worry of mine is not because I see anything in him that leads me to think he'll grow up to be an asshole. It's just my usual paranoia about my ability to do anything, which would include parenting.

What if he gets caught up with the wrong crowd in high school and starts using drugs? What if he's mean to the class outcast? What if doesn't like his parents and acts out accordingly? What if he finds Jesus?

Yeah, I worry about car crashes and muggers and all those things that could potentially hurt him. I put those things firmly in the category of Shit Over Which I Have Zero Control. But this other stuff, this stuff about him not growing into a good person, this falls under Things That Could Happen If I Don't Do My Job. And it's fucking frightening.


That's how much we think about this stuff. 24/7.

Get used to it. It's not going to get any better.

I have a picture in my head of Riley the Teenager. Confident, intelligent, outgoing, straight-A's, captain of the football team, leader of the debate team, stud-muffin at prom, class clown, and around-awesome guy...etc. I also have a completely opposite picture I carry around in my head. Drugged-out loser without direction, maladjusted young man with serious therapy needs and tons of body piercings. I am equally scared by both scenarios. Lol.
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