I am not an overprotective parent. I believe in dirt and scrapes and bruises. I don't carry that antibacterial gel with me. I don't even carry Band-Aids. I let my kids climb alarmingly high at the playground. I let them wrestle and eat things that have fallen on the ground (and stayed there for more than 5 seconds). But I do have limits.
Yesterday the Mister and I walked to daycare together to pick up the kids. Since I used to have a commute, this has always been the Mister's provenance. He picks them up and walks them home. Which had always seemed like a good thing.
Until he says this: "I let them get out here and climb the fence." At that moment we are standing in front of a shuttered auto mechanic shop surrounded by a rusty chain-link fence topped with three rows of rusty barbed wire. Oliver jumps out of the stroller and scales the thing like a monkey until his perfect butter-like chin is resting over a rusty three-pronged barb. All that stands between him and an accident too awful even to imagine are his teensy little arms with their teensy little quivering biceps. Reader, I am horrified.
I've written before about my own accident-prone childhood, but what I may not have mentioned is that one of my worst injuries, the one that put me in an ambulance at age five, was from slipping while climbing a chain link fence and ripping open the tender inside of my elbow on the nasty, pointed top.
When I express my horror, the Mister does a little shrug like I'm just working myself into some sort of hysterical mom-frenzy, like I am completely off my chicken for thinking that the combination of sharp rusty fence and distracted toddler could possibly come to a bad end.
It's the same shrug I got when I freaked out after the Mister tried to take Oliver (who can't swim) kayaking on Tomales Bay without a life jacket. It's the shrug that says, "I'll humor you now, you raw bundle of unchecked worry, but as soon as you turn your back, me and the kids are going to ride our dirt bikes up the coast to go abalone diving with a bunch of guys I met at a halfway house."
Reader, I am worried.