Here’s a partial list of things that I’m concerned about on John’s behalf.
1) Falling down the stairs.
2) Getting swept away in a car during a flood.
3) Being trapped behind a locked door in a dark room.
4) Falling into a lake.
5) Falling into a lake through ice.
6) Getting lost in an airport.
7) Being alone and confused on an elevator.
8) Being alone and confused anywhere.
9) Drifting anchorless on an ocean.
10) Being stolen.
11) Being hit by a car that inexplicably jumps off the road and onto the sidewalk.
12) Getting chased and potentially eaten by zombies.
I’ve given each and every one of these scenarios explicit and detailed consideration. Some of them are more reasonable than others, but the likelihood of the troubling situation has no bearing on how much I think about it. Zombies and lake: equal time. I was awake last night worrying about the flood/car problem.
There are reasonable things that I can do to mitigate risk. Obviously I’ve talked to John about what to do if he gets lost. He knows my phone number. We don’t play on the stairs. For the less reasonable risks, I’m more careful. I try to refrain from saying things like this: “John, if you ever find yourself being chased by the undead, I want you to lock yourself in your room, knock out the window, climb onto the porch roof, and meet me in the backyard.” I don’t need my paranoia to be his. But believe me, I’ve been tempted.
Everyone knows that kids can make you lose your mind in everyday ways, like the feeling you get after you play 40 consecutive games of Chutes and Ladders with a three year old. It’s the new and unexpected crazy that surprises me every time.