Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Not Quite Physics

For every joy that comes with being a parent, every heart-swelling moment you try to etch into your brain so as never to forget it, there is an equally awful fear or anxiety. Like Newton’s Third Law of Motion, except, you know, about your kids and your own craziness. I’m going to call it the Neurotic’s Third Law of Emotion. I’ll leave coming up with the first and second for another day.

Think about it. There may be debate about when Life begins, but worrying starts at conception. “Yay, I’m pregnant!” is soon followed by plaguing thoughts about all the things that could go wrong in the development of the baby. Especially if you consumed six or seven pomegranate margaritas the night before you peed on the stick.

As your sweet baby grows, the Third Law of Emotion rears its head over and over. Most often in the form of developmental milestones. Should my baby be clapping? Walking? Talking? Cuckoo crazy. I remember one baby playgroup at which someone (it was probably me) was worrying about when her baby was going to be able to roll over. My friend Sara, super laid back as always, was like, how many otherwise healthy adults do you know that can’t roll over?

But we have to worry. And there are so many things to worry about — swine flu, speech issues, breathing disorders, is anyone making these kids wash their hands at school?, food allergies, bullying, cyber-bullying, peer pressure and on and on.

So here’s what’s making me crazy now. I say now but it has really been almost two years (and if I’m truthful, to way back before I even had kids). Lice. Holy cheese and crackers how these freaking parasites have turned me into a nutjob.

I always dreaded the day that my kids would bring home lice. I’m not a bug person at all. I’ve always been creeped out by the idea that they could crawl into my hair and I wouldn’t know it. So a bug that actually lives in your hair and lays a jillion eggs a day is kind of like my own horror movie. Dial L for Lice. The Lice Nit Project. Scream.

In the Spring of 2007, my two kids and I all got lice (my husband, strangely, didn’t). I held it together long enough to bag, wash, or vacuum everything in the house and become the most conscientious nit-picker in the world. I even went to someone and paid to have my hair and my daughter’s hair combed. Twice. We got the all-clear. And still, it took me until about late August to stop thinking every itch was a resurgence.

And then, in January, we got the dreaded note: “There is a case of lice in your son’s class….” Breakdown sequence activated! I checked my kids daily for the first month, panicking at every scratch (theirs and mine). I had to call the lice lady to have her talk me down.

Now here’s where the Neurotic’s Third Law comes in: the other night, my four year old had a nightmare and got into bed with us. She snuggled up to me and in the cutest, sleepiest, little girl voice said “I love you Mama. You’re the best Mama in the whole world.” And as my irritation at having been woken up at 3 a.m. instantly vanished and I snuggled her back I had a chilling thought: HER HAIR IS ON MY PILLOW!!

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