Day 229: Parenting as Suicide Watch

One of my jobs as a father is to keep my kids away from poison, knives, and ledges. Other people have that job too, they’re called orderlies in a psych ward. I’m constantly on suicide watch because I don’t know what they’re capable of. Will they jump off the edge of the mall parking garage? I have no idea, so I have to assume the answer is “probably.”

The euphemism we all use is “baby proofing”. We have that for adults too and it’s called a padded cell. We’re doing this because we don’t believe you’re capable of not harming yourself. Does intention really matter when someone’s screaming KITTY while trying to jam a water balloon into the toaster oven? An adult would be put on an antipsychotic; a small child, however, is simply redirected to his train set and maybe a short nap.

That’s the majority of our job as parents; keep the kids fed and safe. The fort building, book reading and ball-throwing are bonus features received after we’ve managed to complete our base mission. It’s not easy to keep a kid safe. In acts of desperation, some parents turn to helmets and leashes. I used to scoff at parents who walked their kids like dogs, but now I try to give them a smile and a wink that says, “It’s ok, I totally understand.” All you non-parents who point and laugh at kids on leashes should shush and enjoy your carefree afternoon having a picnic of exotic cheeses in the park with a gaggle of women wearing gigantic sunglasses and ironic hats.

If, however, you see someone walking 3 or more children by leashes, like a professional dog walker, you have my permission to say something. No one should be pulled along the side walk by a gaggle of toddlers like they’re competing in an urban Iditerod. You should especially say something (and probably inform the authorities) if it’s summer and the parent is wearing fur and yelling MUSH at the kids while standing on a homemade cardboard sled.

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Amanda says:

My children will soon be 3 and 5. If the 3 year old doesn't listen (which is often because he's 3 and because he thinks it's hilarious to have his Mom or Dad chasing after him in a public place), I just sick his older brother on him. Mostly because he's much faster then I am, so he actually stands a chance of catching his brother. Plus, it's really funny to see people's reactions as they watch a young boy being chased and subsequently tackled to the ground by his older brother :P