I'm getting to the bottom of a strange phenomenon happening at our house. My daughters yell my name out of the blue and when I answer, they say, "Oh okay, I just wanted to see where you were."
Apparently, they think I'm playing a sadistic game of hide and seek when I fold laundry upstairs, write my book downstairs, or wash any number of floors that aren't under their feet. I wasn't aware I needed to check in like a teenager.
This morning it was the same thing, only this time the reply was, "I just wanted to make sure you were still here."
Still here. Where the fuck would I go?
So I sat them both down to discuss. They poured out all their anxiety of abandonment, hitting the crescendo with, "When you and dad go back downstairs to watch TV and we're upstairs in bed, we sneak down to see your toes to make sure you're still there. But even then, we think you might just put up cardboard cutouts to trick us."
To be sure you heard me right: My daughters think my husband and I have cardboard cutouts of ourselves and we painted slippers and toenails on them, to trick our daughters, so we could get in the car and bolt.
I was stunned. I said, "Where do you think we want to be other than here?"
They looked at each other and confessed, "Valleyfair."
Let me tell you something. If we go to that much trouble to duck out on our parental obligations, the last place we will go is Valleyfair.
Anyway, I explained that we're not peeling out of the driveway with glee as soon as we tuck them in. We're decompressing, which is essential for being good parents.
I explained that we love them and they're safe and protected, even when we sit on the patio in the evening.
"But what if you get hit by lightening?"
I explained the patio is safe. While I don't understand the psysics of it, we will survive a conversation on the patio.
They "What if'd" me about a hundred more times: What if you die in your sleep, what if a car runs you over on a walk, what if someone shoots you, what if the house burns down, what if a tornado hits the house...
At then it occurred to me. I used to live my life like that. I "What if'd" myself into a life of fear. I didn't realize those girls were watching so carefully.
Damn it. Sometimes I wish we could put an "R" rating on our lives to prevent them from seeing some of the shit we do.
But there are no filters or screens and our kids are sitting in the front row of our lives with popcorn and Junior Mints watching our even move, word and action.
Now I've got some work to do. Because life is meant for risks and adventure. Not "What if".
And besides, what if it's GOOD?