While filling out the enrollment paperwork for Nora to attend school in the fall, I came across a form that released the school to take her on field trips. My heart skipped a beat. For a moment, I was back in the anxiety that gripped me as a new parent. Someone is going to take my child out in public with a gaggle of other kids and return her safely? Gulp.
I was absolutely blindsided by the anxiety that took hold when Nora came home from the hospital. I was terrified to take her in the car. I was scared I was going to drop her. I was paranoid about stranger abduction.
I would imagine a dangerous scenario and then dream up a way to save her from it. If someone broke in the house right now, where’s the nearest object that could be used as a bludgeon? If she starts choking on that, I’ll flip her upside down to dislodge it from her windpipe. If the plane crash lands, I’ll unbuckle myself, then release her bottom harness, then the top, then head to the nearest exit, which is exactly three rows behind us.
It was kind of scary. And exhausting.
I’ve asked around and this seems to be par for the parenting course, to a greater or lesser degree. What could make more sense than your brain demanding that you prepare yourself to protect your young? Sometimes I worry about not worrying as much anymore. Should I really be letting my guard down?
There’s a clear line to walk here, on one side, you have no idea what to do should an emergency arise. On the other side, you are an overprotective freak who keeps your child home while her classmates go on field trips. The balance for me is to keep first aid instructions posted on the fridge, sign the school field trip release form, but then volunteer to come along. And always know the location of the nearest exit.