Sunday, December 21, 2014

Catastrophic Fears of Child Rearing, Compared

My family's apartment is on the ninth floor of a 12-story apartment building. My bedroom faced a parking lot in the back of the building where my mom parked her car. All the windows and the balcony had screens, but I was always sternly warned away from any open windows. 

One day, the screens were being cleaned so they were off the windows. I climbed up on the ledge and hung out of the open window to shout down to my mom as she got out of her car after work. I don't think I was anywhere close to falling, but it must have looked otherwise from my mom's vantage point, because she screamed bloody murder from 90 feet down at ELIZABETH to GET OFF THAT WINDOW SILL! 

A relative once warned me ominously, "you don't know fear until you have kids" (See prior post titled: "Ambivalence, Identity, and Choices"), and boy, ain't that the truth. Bringing my kids to New York City each year, I worry (who--me worry?) about them being unprepared to face the dangers of a big city, and I find myself... well ...helicoptering over them a little/lot. 

People in Alaska have asked me what it was like to grow up in New York City, but I don't know another childhood, so I can't really answer. I do know that it's actually probably not much scarier than growing up in Juneau, as the following helpful comparative chart will illustrate:

NYC: Falling off a train platform onto the tracks
Juneau: Falling off the bow of a skiff into 38 degree water

NYC: Bare naked man marauding around the subway
Juneau: Bear naked bear marauding around your garage

NYC: Falling out of a 9 story window
Juneau: Falling off a 90 foot cliff

NYC: Guns (1977-1995, generally)
Juneau: Guns (Always)

NYC: Drunk street crossing
Juneau: Drunk driving

NYC: Stranger bad touch
Juneau: Stranger bad touch

NYC: Falling through an elevator shaft
Juneau: Falling through a hole in the ice

NYC: Drugs
Juneau: Drugs

So you see, it's possible to be completely horrified by all of the pitfalls of reaching adulthood anywhere! I feel so much better about all of my choices now.



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