IT’S AN EPIDEMIC!

25 Jan

Are you afraid?!  While bad things don’t seem to be on the rise in the world, people’s paranoia about bad things sure does.  Now, this pisses me off in lots of areas (hey again, Glenn Beck – you’re like a featured guest on this blog), but the number one concentration of my pissed-ness falls on parenting fearmongering.

A few weeks ago, it occurred to me that I carry Ida everywhere we go when we’re outside of the house.  This seemed silly to me, because Ida can walk now, and LOVES to do so.  I thought about how Ida would probably like to be asked if she wants to get around by herself instead of my just assuming that I should carry her.  I thought about how insane it would be if I suggested that I should always carry my grandfather because he takes kind-of a long time to get from point A to point B.

Like most of us I imagine, Ida loves to do anything for herself and enthusiastically embraced her new freedom and responsibility.  We talk things through, noting any upcoming challenges that might be new (“these stairs are kind-of skinny”), or learning about protocols (“before we move, we need to look around for cars in the parking lot”).  I started letting Ida get around by herself when she’s able to.  She climbs and descends stairs like a champ, gets in and out of the car sometimes, and is, in general, pretty steady on her feet.  When she needs a little help, she lets me know by saying “Mama” and then doing her version of the sign for “help.”  Sometimes, for safety, I offer some unasked for help (like on the stairs, or when we’re walking where there are cars).   Also, it should be noted that we’re not talking about jaunting across I-94 or navigating rope bridges here – these are pretty straightforward (and short) trips.

Anyway, Ida and I are both really enjoying our new mode of transit and today, we decided to head out in Chicago’s tropical climes (30 degrees!!  Practically shorts weather – or, since I live in Andersonville – practically a-line skirt and tank-top with leg and pit hair/mesh tee-shirt weather!) to take perhaps our longest walk yet – a trip to the bank which is down the block from our apartment.

But wait!  Before you infer that Ida and I had a fun and peaceful outing complete with fulfilled check-deposit-mission, consider WHAT COULD HAPPEN!!!!  Consider the myriad dangers we could encounter!  Consider THE CHILDREN!  Well, just in case you refuse to consider these terrors – in case your life experience confirms that most such errands are accomplished without incident – someone else was on the job and ready for action.  As Ida and I were crossing the street, a fellow pedestrian just couldn’t contain her dismay at my shabby parenting (or nanny-ing as I suspect she, uh, suspected) and felt the need to share with me that I “should probably be carrying that baby across the street.  That looks dangerous.”   Not a moving vehicle in sight.  Mother and daughter holding hands, crossing a two-lane, residential street at a cross walk after stopping to look both ways for cars (that would have probably stopped at the sign anyway).  THE HORROR!!!!!!

Rest easy, fearmongers – your delegates are hard at work on Chicago’s north side.  But you know what?  So am I.  I hope that lady is ready to call CPS in a few years when she sees Ida playing UNSUPERVISED in our gated front yard, or biking around the neighborhood, or a few years after that when Ida plops her solo-CTA-riding self down next to her on the train.  Because you know what?  This is how we fix it.  By walking.  By being exactly who we are and moving around in the world like we know we can.  By taking up our space, looking one another in the eye and making a life together.  Because how will cloistered children become a community of adults?  They won’t.  And no matter how safely they arrive, they’ll never get anywhere worth being.  THAT’s what I’m afraid of.

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