Dear Lily June,
The other night, we gave you ice cream for the first time.
It was three weeks before pediatricians recommend letting your child try honest to goodness dairy. Even while I was doing it, I felt like a rebel, letting you take a couple of minuscule bites from the baby cone I held out (you probably got less than couple of tablespoons in total) while my hand shook.
So overprotective (read: hyper-anxious) was I, I used to get down on my hands and knees in the kitchen to ensure that your bottles were filled to the millimeter with what was recommended in terms of water. I would level every scoop of formula off with a butter-knife with what felt like surgical precision.
So what changed? Am I less afraid for your well-being? The short answer is kind of. And no. And never.
As your parent, Lily, some part of me will always be haunted at the myriad of troubles that could befall you. You could have some horrifying allergic reaction, causing you to sprout an extra arm just to accommodate all the hives you’ll grow. You could fall down learning to ride a bike and crack your helmet open, spilling my sanity all over a sidewalk. You could trip over your own two shoes just a nanosecond faster than I can lunge at you like you were a priceless Ming vase and I, its doting owner.
You are going to get hurt in this world. That is a given, one I’ve had to accept with every time you’ve toppled over and my breath has caught, every tooth that’s pushed its cruel white spike up through your gums, every immunization shot and accompanying fever, that time I was so tired, I didn’t realize a bit of your skin was caught in your jammies’ zipper. (I’m already saving up for your future therapy on that one.)
I can limit the fallout, cut down on potential hazards. But overall, I have to occasionally step back and let you take a risk, lest we become, at best, Nemo and his father , at worst, Norman Bates and his mother.
Parenting comes with its fair share of tiny, lovable horrors, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned in being a writer, it’s that sometimes the only way we can exorcise our demons is to conjure them onto an (even figurative) piece of paper. Inspired by another blogger’s share of 21 Five-Word Scary Stories, I bring you, without further ado, my own maternal spin on the genre. Someday, Lily, if you ever have children of your own, you’ll understand what all of this means. Oh, will you.
Five Word Horror Stories for Parents of Infants & Toddlers
- You. Will. Never. Sleep. Again.
- “What’s in your mouth now?!”
- Laptop. Sippy cup. Smiling infant.
- Finger-painting. Straight from the diaper.
- “Why’s your poop that color?!”
- 2:00 AM. All bottles dirty.
- The lovey has gone missing.
- Grandparents’ first visit. This week.
- Separation anxiety? ONLY at bedtime.
- Sleep regression’s a REAL THING.
- Nap time keeps getting shorter.
- Toy plays that song. Again.
- Your child has mastered biting.
- The lovey is still missing.
- “Where did you find scissors?”
- Chewing heard by litter box.
- The washing machine is broken.
- The dish washer is broken.
- Flushing heard. Then, “Uh oh.”
- Guess where the lovey reappeared?
- The teething goes on forever.
- By Deutsche Fotothek, CC BY-SA 3.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7959945