Friday, October 06, 2006

Shtick

Here's what I have decided. Parenthood is like shining a big ol' spotlight on all of your idiosyncracies. Those little things about yourself - what you have sought therapy for, or you have decided to just live with, or what you secetly worry is not normal about you. Those quirks. Those neuroses. Once you become a parent, you are either so worried that your child will manifest with the same issues or that your issues will affect that lump of clay that we call our kin, you start wearing your secrets on your sleeve.

For instance, I am a hypochondriac in the way that I don't always think I am sick, but if there is something wrong I assume it's fatal. Bump on the arm? Bone cancer. Twitchy toe? Lou Gehrig's disease. Itchy patch? Melanoma. So when Chloe stares momentarily into space, I assume it's Autism. Silent for a second? Speech delays. Etc.

To overhear groups of new mothers on the streets, it is a symphony of strangeness. Everyone's shtick on parade. The former anorexic worries about the calorie count in formula. The germ phobe is rubbed raw from Purrell. The insecure one wonders why her kid is the only one who has not started crawling. Our poor kids.

Personally, I have tried very hard to keep my own issues surrounding fear of illness at bay. I think I smile somewhat convincingly when Chloe tumbles to the floor. I say "Uh Ohh" in my cheeriest voice, while silently praying that she does not have a concussion. I sit on my hands in order to not call the pediatrician. When I see him, I feign breeziness while he spends a bit too long silently studying that rash.

As parents, I think we all need to work hard at making sure that we stifle our own shtick. This is our chance to do over, do better. They watch us carefully. We need to behave.

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