I like to think of myself as a laid back Dad. You know, the kind that doesn’t rush to grab my daughter after every little wimper; the kind that takes getting poop on his hand in stride; the kind that isn’t afraid to let her play in the leaves even though leaves are “dirty”. I am also apparently cool enough to let my daughter hang out with what looks like, from this picture, to be a dingo. Luckily, pirates don't eat strawberries.
But being a dad can make you think strange things. It can make you afraid of any item the size of a Hershey Kiss (including Hershey Kisses) because they are choking hazards. Over the last seven-plus months I have developed into an all-scared, all-the-time kind of person. I might hide it well, but I have become more neurotic than Larry David. And so, to give you some idea of what bother a father of a seven month old, here is my list of completely irrational fears:
1. Other Kids – They carry germs, for one. They also do things like hit and grab. This irrational fear is particularly troublesome since Olive spends three days a week surrounded by other kids in day care.
2. Crooked Teeth – They are starting to come in. So far they are straight, and they aren’t permanent anyway. But each one is just another role of the dice. I just don’t want to have to nickname her snaggletooth.
3. Sugar – While I feel bad trying to feed Olive the plain whole-milk yogurt, I’m pretty sure giving her the kind with fruit and added sugar will cause her to become diabetic at age 1.
4. Non-Organic Food – The baby food section of the grocery store puts the choice right there in front of you: Organic Carrots or Poison Carrots.
5. Mountain Lions – Okay, I admit, I’ve been scared of those for a while. But now that I have a baby, I’m even more scared. At least I don’t live in Phoenix.
6. H1N1 – Maybe this fear isn’t exactly irrational – I heard today that 7% of all hospital visits in Massachusetts were flu related last month. The normal amount at the peak of a normal flu season is 1%. So you can be sure that every time Olive sniffles she is going to be getting a thermometer in her butt.
7. Growing up to be a stripper – As a wise man once said, if I can’t keep her off the pole, I have failed as a father.
8. Getting Too Cold/Hot – I have no idea how to dress my child. It will be 60 degrees outside and I’ll have her in three onesies, a pair of pants, a jacket, mittens, a hat, and a blanket. But the next day it will be 30 and I’ll take her outside naked. I am really looking forward to the development of speech when she is finally able to say – “I’m cold.”
9. Missing a Developmental Milestone – Child rearing books will have these lists telling you what you baby should be doing at each month of development. If Olive somehow falls behind I immediately start training her. "Olive! You should be sitting up by now! No, more sleeping on your back…you will sleep in a chair until you learn to sit up! All the other sitting up kids will make fun of you!"
10. TV – Okay, we have the TV on a lot in our house. For a while we wrote off Olive’s fascination as no big deal, she just likes things with bright colors. Now I’m convinced that her first words will be “Turn off ESPN!”
11. Diarrhea – Olive has never had it. And I am going to do everything in my power to prevent it. I have seen normal baby poop, and I really don’t think my brain has the capacity to understand what baby diarrhea must look like. It must be the worst thing ever. Right now I just can’t imagine it. It is like asking me to imagine having a billion dollars, or telling me about the “nice” parts of New Jersey.
12. Car Accidents – I’m THIS close to getting a Baby on Board sign. Or a tank.
13. Superstitions – Maybe I should just skip this number.
14. Doing Something Wrong – Am I not reading to her enough? Is she the only kid in the world whose parents listen to NPR while they feed her? Will she start to salivate if she hears Carl Kasell’s voice 10 years from now? When am I supposed to switch car seats? Is she napping enough? Maybe she is sleep deprived? Why don’t I see other parents letting their kids play with knives?
15. Allergies – She is trying lots of new foods now, and as far as I can tell is allergic to none of them. But after each bite of a new fruit or vegetable I wait a second to see if she turns blue like Violet from Willy Wonka. “Olive! Your turning Olive, Olive!”
16. Tripping While Holding Her – I have been walking for about 29 years…I’m pretty good at it. But There are time I definitely heel-toe it when she is in my arms.
Okay, that’s what I can think of right now, but trust me, there are a lot more. Parents? What did I miss? Let me know what other irrational fears haunt your dreams now that you have a child.