Some of the very worst things that can happen and why we should worry just a little bit less.
Photo by: Dolinski
I am an anxious person, a worrier. I’m anxious every time I get in the car to drive my daughter to her grandma in the morning. I worry every time I think about sending her to school. I’m anxious every time I walk down the stairs with her that this will be the time I trip and fall. Even my dreams are full of scary things that I can’t control. Things that ought to be fun turn into scary things there: I’d been planning a day trip to the High Bridge Trail once, and the dream I had about that bridge and my daughter getting too close to the edge still terrifies me.
Despite these fears, I am clearly1 a functional member of society. I’m scared, but I keep going. But when I find fear creeping into my daily life and making things difficult, I try to talk myself through a number of calming facts and anecdotes that help quell those fears–at least a little.
Below are some of these fears and how I make them seem a little bit smaller.
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Car seats are designed for crashes
That’s the whole point of a carseat. It’s not just to keep kids snug and comfortable2, it’s to keep them safe in the event of a crash. A medical professional friend once said they call car seats “orphan seats,” because even if a crash is terrible and other passengers die, the child in the seat is much more likely to survive. Admittedly this is macabre comfort to take, but still. I have to remind myself each time we get in the car that even though other drivers scare the crap out of me, I have taken all the steps I can to keep my daughter safe.
School shootings are rare events
While it was published in 2011 and thus does not include the latest statistics, the Encyclopedia of School Crime and Violence states that “generally speaking, schools are relatively safe places to be. Although many people believe that overall school violence is currently on the rise, in fact this is not so. In the last decade, types of school violence other than shootings has decreased by approximately 50%. Most students, particularly those in suburban areas, will not experience a shooting; among homicides where school-age children are the victims, less than 1% occur at school, or while traveling to or from school.” This is not to downplay school shootings–they are terrible and horrific and tragic. That is why they are a fear. This is only to say, they are still rare tragic gut-wrenching sickening events. Will I make decisions for my daughter’s future schooling based on fear? I want to say no. If Malala Yousafzai can go to school with courage under harrowing circumstances, I can send my daughter too.
Kids in Japan run errands when they’re adorably young
Sometimes they get secretly filmed for the show “My First Errand” which if you watch nothing else on the Internet today you should watch right now. I know, I know, whenever anyone starts a sentence with, “Well in Japan,” I want to be like, yes but in Japan their crime statistics are in, like, the negative zone3. But even though we live in very different places, knowing that kids that young are capable of basic self reliance is enough to make me feel more comfortable letting my daughter toddle around the park with me in a safe line of sight, rather than climbing up on the jungle gym with her. I can let her go a little. I can unclench my fingers…a little.
We will all cause some sort of damage to our children eventually
Whether we let that keep us from taking risks is up to us. Whether it’s saying the wrong thing or taking them out on the High Bridge Trail, everything we do and say has the potential to cause harm. But everything we do also has the potential to cause good. Risks don’t always reap the worst outcome. They can reap rewards, too, and I’m trying to focus on what those good outcomes can be.
There are terrible people in this world, but there are incredible people, too
And just like the scary people who come out of nowhere, the kindest people can surprise us. There are folks doing tremendous good in this world who are focused on kindness and not evil. And while it’s scary to share a world with unspeakably evil people, it’s pretty comforting to know that we share it with the kind people too.
Dreams are not reality
Fears are fears. Even when they manifest in very real ways like taking over my dreams, they are still ultimately fears and not what is necessarily going to take place. The worst can happen, but I’m trying to remind myself that maybe, also, the best is yet to come.