Tuesday, October 25, 2016

You Scare Me

You don't know fear, they said, until you have kids. Boy were they ever right!

At 32 weeks, you gave me a scare when I bled, and then found out you were a boy. (They had said you were a girl). I was scared I would lose you, and then when I didn't, I was scared I wouldn't know what to do with a boy.

I still am!

It's a scary kind of love. When you fell off a big wheel at school and got three stitches in your chin, that was scary. You were brave, though. The maniac way you bike and ski--I wish I could put an invisible helmet and chain mail on your entire body forever.

I want to protect you from the world--cars, guns, motorcycles, war, falls, and all the rest; and also yourself. Not from frustration, necessarily, because frustration is good; and the way you cry about losing at Candy Land and not getting to play "donuts on a string" at Halloween Family Fun Night is ridiculous, and makes me laugh in your face as you're crying, which of course just makes you cry harder.


But also from grief, like when one of your tadpoles died, and much worse grief to come. And when you feel left out and miss your friends and grandparents. And all of your sensitive feelings and questions about why things are the way they are in the world, which is itself scary, as you're finding out each day.

Your very existence scares me, much more than any spooky spiders or haunted houses that pop up around your birthday every year.

Yet I know it's my job to put that fear aside long enough, at least, to help you become a good and decent man. One who eats something besides processed meat and ketchup. And I know that everything else--all of it--is just dumb luck.


From the moment I saw you, and your impossibly perfect face (Those dimples! My body made this?!), six years ago this morning, I knew they were right. Your heart is just a passenger, they said, on a train with no conductor. Even if I swallowed a bottle of Prozac every day and believed in God, even if I had 100 kids, I know I would never feel enough safety and control to mitigate my fear of you.

You scare me. A lot, and every day. But you're worth it.

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