Parenting Through Paranoia

As adults we get more moments then we would like that remind us about the fragility of life.

Is there a single person who did not think this weekend about the shooting at the midnight

Look both ways, the Orange Line is coming

Look both ways, the Orange Line is coming (Photo credit: LA Wad)

Dark Knight Rises Batman premiere that left 12 dead at a Colorado theater? Much has already been written about the crazed gunmen and his booby-trapped apartment.  It is beyond doubt a tragic tale.  The look of anguish on the face of parents who lost children in the shooting is a stab in the heart. Stories are trickling in about moms, dads and boyfriends body blanketing their loved ones from gunfire. We need these stories to help us all make some sense about a bewildering event.

As parents, we take the necessary precautions to reduce the risk of injury to our kids.  “Look both ways before crossing the street,” we say. “Everyone got their seat belt buckled?” we ask.  Although our rational self knows that the Aurora theater incident was isolated, the emotional response is quite different. As one parent who was at that theater said through a stream of tears, “We just went to see a movie!”

The morning after the shooting was my youngest son’s birthday and we had already purchased tickets to take a carload of his friends to see The Dark Knight Rises. As expected I had a few emails waiting for me in my inbox asking if the party would go on. I told them it would. I had already planned to remind kids about “duck and cover”  before we entered the theater. It felt a little weird to be starting out a 12-year-old’s party on such a serious note, but somehow it felt necessary.

Parents sheepishly apologized to me for being a little paranoid when they dropped off their kids, but it was understandable. I admitted that I too was apprehensive given the timing. It wasn’t that I expected a gunman to appear at a matinée in Seattle, but I knew for sure that my eyes would be scanning the movie audience more than the screen at this particular showing.

Normally my husband and I would have been comfortable in the packed theater sitting several rows away from the kids. This time however, we sat right behind — all the better to keep a lookout.

I remember telling my dad when I was pregnant with my first child that I was worried. He said, “Carol, welcome to a lifetime a worrying.” His words have been truer than I could ever have imagined. Not only do I worry about my own kids, I’ve got plenty of apprehension to spread around for others. It is a trait that makes me good at planning work, vacations and parties because I always have a back-up plan. However it also brings on multiple thought bubbles that keep me up at night.

I give myself permission to be a little bit paranoid when it comes to my kids but that is the joy and love of parenting. I know I have lots of company.

Linda wrote about this topic too. A subject worth revisiting.

Carol Lewis Gullstad

July 23, 2012

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