Under parenthood in the dictionary there should be a special note that reads upon arrival of children one will become plagued with irrational fears and concerns about choking hazards, pedophiles, communicable diseases and GMO conventional fruits. The scariest thing about it all — my fears are actually quite rational. I think we each kind of pick our own fears for our children based on our own experiences. I’m not sure what it says about me that one of my greatest is that Wilder will be left in a hot car. I don’t worry so much that I’ll leave him in there. No, that would make too much sense. I worry more that I’ll unload the groceries, put him in his car seat, close the door to get in the driver seat then be kidnapped with all the doors closed. Or maybe just drop dead from an aneurysm. These are the things I think about as I dash hurriedly to hop in the driver seat. And it’s why I roll down the windows almost every time to ensure someone will see him if I do actually drop dead. I’m totally serious right now.
I also have choking hazard fears. Chief among them — grapes. It may not sound so problematic. But most recently Wilder strolled into the living room with an unwashed choking hazard size uncut grape in his hand. He can reach every shelf in our fridge save for the very top one. It’s a problem. So, in my infinite wisdom I buy those teeny tiny little mini grapes (which I cringed to do because I can only imagine the genetically modified lab experiments it took to create those pesticide laden grapes) thinking “Aha! Gotcha now. You can’t choke on those.” Cue Wilder shaking his head and laughing “You simple simple woman.”
I’m loading the dishwasher this week and he’s sitting in his chair eating a lunch including the world’s smallest grapes. And it’s quiet. Too quiet. I look up to see him grinning with an eyebrow cocked (I don’t exaggerate. He literally cocks his eyebrow and gives this evil half smile when he’s doing something wrong.) and I get closer to realize he’s found two grapes the perfect size for his nostrils. Well played, Wilder. Well played. He was so very proud.
At one point when I was racked with irrational fears just days after my niece’s birth (pre-Wilder days) I asked my mom. “How, how, how do you survive this? The worrying? Dear God. I can’t think of anything but all the awful things that could go wrong.” In my mother’s infinite wisdom she said. “You have to give them to the Lord. You will still worry. You do what you can to protect them. And you pray and leave it to God.” My mom never was an obsessive worrier. Concerned? Yes. But, she lived her life and let us live ours with equal parts protection and freedom. I hope to strike such a balance with Wilder. It’s a process. When he first came home from the hospital I did what my mother said. I prayed over him (and checked every so often that he was really breathing). And I still pray every day and night for him. And I do whatever I can to give him those equal parts protection and freedom. And maybe that’s the scariest part of being a parent. When you realize you’ll probably never get that balance right.
Wilder turned two on Saturday and I know that the freedom required for him to flourish is growing each day. So, I pray and I hope and I try to give him space and I continue the search for the world’s safest grape. Or perhaps I just need to put a lock on that fridge.