Worry On Demand

Because you just don't know.

It's time once again, for the great migration.

Here on the south side of I-20, where children are chronicled on the Web, the elder leaves pre-K and plows on into life. Meanwhile the younger leaves behind a pair of long-beloved teachers. The usual. So why worry?

These kids, mine, live mostly steady lives, without much visible external trauma or tornado or flood.

Personally though, I am a firm believer that everybody's traumas are tucked away in a box about the same size. What you have lived through, and how you carry yourself, determines the relative weight of the traumas in the box.

Or less grandiloquently: what matters to you at the time, matters a lot.

So, today's topic: real trauma, or manufactured drama?

My daughter -- at five -- is the more anxious, and the upcoming summer could hardly have less consistency.

She's headed for different camps, some cheap, a few posh, almost every week. Both her mom and I work. Then at the end of it, she's going to land in one of about five schools so, really, we can only speculate.

Somehow she's excited about it all. She's ready for change, challenge and adventure.

Meanwhile, for my son -- who at three is the more adaptable -- is crushed. He's sleeping poorly, eating little, acting out his anxiety and his upset. For me that's a surprise. What happened to my steady little guy?

I suppose all of us have it hard. Say you're a working engineer, and a working artist, and in this context a working writer, and a father and spouse. What does such a person have to worry about? Bills, right? Fears? Past wounds?

Certainly. But what I find most interesting is that the things that bother me are sometimes least what I'd expect.

I try to remember that lesson when I deal with my kids.

Like little adults, kids don't know a thing, really. The world changes direction often and abruptly. Do they pretend to control it?

The parents on whom they model their responses have, let's be honest, hardly more of a clue. I mean, look around you at all the people who are obviously messed up, and all the rest just, secretly messed up. It's not inspiring.

There's a reason the local high school has a metal detector.

There's a reason your school has a free lunch program.

There's a reason my preschool has a security guard.

May the scales fall from our eyes.

And may we all snuggle with a warm blanket.


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