I played a game yesterday that I haven’t played in a long time. If you are a parent you know the game, Imagine The Worst Possible Thing.
You play the game by imagining the worst possible thing that could happen to your children. This game usually starts as soon as they exit your womb and enter the world. Often it starts before that. It is most often played by new parents and after the novelty of the child has worn off and they keep you up all night long it begins to taper. At this point you might begin to fantasize about the worst thing that could happen.
When my son was an infant I obsessed about the chandelier in his nursery. Even though it was not located over his crib and it had never shown any signs of coming loose I imagined that it would fall down with a Rube Goldberg effect and set off a chain of events that would eventually lead to my son’s demise. Either it would crash through the floor creating a vacuum on its way and swallowing my son, crib and all, into the depths of the basement which was two floors down or it would hit the floor causing a plank in the floor to fly up sending his crib to the ceiling where he would be electrocuted by the hanging wires from the fallen chandelier.
This was just one of many scenarios I played out in my head each day. At least until he became mobile and then I had all sorts of other things to worry about. When he removed his diaper during his afternoon nap and painted the wall with his poop I started thinking of ways to cause the chain of events.
Interestingly I never worried about a stranger abducting my son. This is surprising since my son was born not too long after the abduction of Jacob Wetterling. Everyone was on alert after this event but I was sure if anyone took my two year old son that all I had to do was wait where I last saw him and eventually the abductor would return him begging me to take him back. I feel the same way about my daughter but I think it would take even less time for her to be returned.
I don’t know why I played this game yesterday. I was running an errand an hour before it was time to pick my daughter and son up from school. Two different schools. Both of my children are directionally challenged. Neither of them could find their way out of a paper bag. They do not get this from me. I know where I am going and I know where due north is. I had an hour before I had to pick them up and my errand was ten minutes away with maybe five minutes to take care of my business. I had plenty of time.
While driving I imagined that my car would fail while driving causing an accident where I would become either dead or incapacitated. This of course got me thinking that there would be no way to alert my children that I wasn’t coming to get them. I imagined my son getting lost and my daughter getting hit by a car as she tried to cross the busy street that is between her school and our house. If they made it to the house I imagined them sitting outside the house and freezing to death because neither one of them had the sense to go to a neighbor’s house. Which made me consider calling my neighbor to make sure she was home and to ask her to peek outside in the event I got in an accident. She wouldn’t have known I was in an accident unless the police or EMTs called her. They wouldn’t know to call that neighbor because she isn’t listed as the person to call in an emergency. And then I started to think about life insurance and the fact that I have still not gotten around to a will. It went on and on from there.
I completed my errand just fine. My car did not fail, I did not get in an accident and I was early to pick up both kids. They wondered why I hugged them both for five minutes when they got in the car but they think I am pretty off anyway so all in all everything was normal. I can’t wait until they have their own kids.