September 12, 2011

Irrational fears

Our brains are strange things. We have impulses - actually, I'm not even sure I want to call them impulses because we have no desire to act on them - to do crazy things. I get mine while driving. What would happen if I suddenly veered off the road here? What if I took my foot off the brake while these pedestrians are crossing in front of me? I'm never going to actually do this stuff, I just think about it.

Much the same way, I've got strange, irrational fears. I don't really worry about any of this. I wouldn't say it kept me up at night, though laying in bed before sleep is prime time for thinking about it.
I used to wonder what would happen if the house was bombed. Or if an atomic weapon was dropped on our city.
Driving over bridges, I worry that there'll be an earthquake, the bridge will fall into the river and I'll have to wait for the water pressure to equalize before I can escape from the car.
I don't particularly like planes. I know statistically driving is much more dangerous, but your chances of survival if something happens seem better on the ground than in the air. Heaven forbid you're over water. And my husband wants to go to Hawaii. He also says since he's already been in a plane crash, what are the odds it'll happen again? I remind him of the guy who's been struck by lightning seven times.

Lately, I'm worrying about the kid. Not any of the sane fears or even irrational stranger danger. I keep hearing the awful thud her head would make if I dropped her on the pavement. I have no intention of dropping her head first on the back steps, but nearly every time we go outside, I hear it. Sometimes I tighten my grip a little bit. Mostly I just let it play there and try to ignore it.
I wonder how long before that goes away and it becomes something else. I wonder what the next thing will be. I hope it doesn't make that knot in the pit of my stomach, but I'm sure it will.
Also, I picture myself falling down the stairs. I imagine my husband coming home to hear the baby crying and find me lying in the hall with my head bent at an awkward angle.

Despite the fact that no one talks about it, I'm sure I'm not the only one.

Sometimes I wonder if we've made too many irrational fears seem rational.
The hospital had lo-jack for the baby. There have been 128 baby snatchings in the last 30 years. That works out to about 4 per year and there are more than 4 million births every year. They warn you to take your baby to the bathroom with you and to always check the nurses ID tags. While it is tragic, is this really something we should spend our time worrying about?
When I was growing up, we were warned not to take candy from strangers. I always assumed it was because an offer of candy would get us close enough to be kidnapped. I don't think that happened very often, but probably more so than people lacing candy with drugs and handing it out ON PURPOSE. Every Halloween they warn us against homemade treats and tell us where you can get your candy x-rayed. Then the follow-up article says there has never been a case of anyone putting razor blades or needles in candy or children poisoned. But you know, be safe.

When I was 12, I babysat for other children. I know folks who don't let their 12 year olds walk two blocks to school by themselves. I can't really imagine what they're worried about, but they're worried all the same.

I wonder why this is considered any more reasonable than my fear that she'll stop breathing.

I worry that I'm gonna turn into that parent in a few years. I talk good now, but I'm terrified I'm gonna change my mind.
Even more scared than I am of octopuses on land.

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