My husband has tried for years to limit my access to tragic news
stories that would reinforce the belief that we should keep our
children inside and require them to wear helmets until they are 21.
To aid in these efforts, Joe has sole ownership of the remote
control, buries sad newspaper stories at the bottom of the
recycling bin, and does his very best to keep me blissfully unaware
of events that might cause me to overreact.
Whoever said "knowledge is power" was definitely not married to
an over-reactor. For people such as myself, bits and pieces of
information are carefully collected, stored, and ultimately used as
rhetorical weapons when a certain husband makes preposterous
"You want the kids to ride up to the park by THEMSELVES? Did you
know that every THREE days in America, a child is abducted by a
"You fed the kids strawberry SPINACH salad for dinner?? Didn't
you know that spinach is a high risk food for containing E. coli
and salmonella? For the love of God, stick to the instant oatmeal
like I asked."
"You want the kids to play FOOTBALL??" (My head merely explodes
from the amount of data stored regarding football and traumatic
My poor husband. He works so hard to shelter me from myself, but
fails to notice that there is this whole, new-fangled contraption
called "the internet." I can retrieve every tragic news story in
milliseconds, ensuring my parental anxiety remains at Def-Con 4 at
So when sinkholes began popping up as a big news story, I
naturally began to panic. Then horror and disaster drew closer as
one occurred only a few short miles from my house. I started
Googling places that sold portable oxygen tanks and extra helmets
- in case any loved ones found themselves abruptly swallowed
by earth. Just when I thought nothing could worsen this phobia, I
read about a darling 6-year-old boy who was enjoying a day at the
beach when he became buried under 11 feet of sand for three hours
because of a sinkhole. Beyond all reason and expectations, the
child miraculously survived and was given a positive prognosis this
"That's it," I told my husband. "We are never going to the beach
Joe's mind worked fast. He knew that the more time I had to
solidify my irrational fears, the less chance he stood to enjoy a
day at the beach ever again. So he loaded up the minivan and
announced yesterday morning that we were heading up to the Warren
Dunes. Without sufficient preparation and internet sinkhole
research, I was forced to take my seat up front.
By the time we arrived, I mapped out a safety plan. Joe and I
were to walk to the lake first so we could test the conditions of
each and every step. Then the kids would be required to trace our
exact steps to ensure a secure and sinkhole-free path to
Joe circumvented my procedures by quickly doling out inner tubes
and telling the boys to sprint to the water because the sand was so
Despite all my trepidation, I enjoyed a marvelous day. I love
the beach. I love the sun. I love stopping at Redamak's for dinner
and at Oink's Ice Cream after that. I love watching my boys chase
seagulls and collect rocks. Joe reminded me that long after we are
gone, these memories we have made for our children will always
remain. Our family is happiest at the beach, and I was silly to try
to ruin all that.
Not surprisingly, the universe really hammered it home when a
cameraman from a local CBS affiliate walked up to Joe as he sat
down to dry off. The reporter wanted to know what Joe thought about
the near-tragedy and why he wasn't letting potential fears keep his
family away from the beach. Joe's response was perfect, click
HERE to see.
I suppose when all else fails, having your husband provide a
public service announcement against overreacting is probably the
way to go.
But I'm still standing firm against football.
Marianne is mother of three sons and the wife of a southside Irish fireman. She has learned that sometimes you're just too dumb to know what makes you happy. She blogs regularly at We Band of Mothers (webandofmothers.com) and curses with even greater frequency. Her material is written for the imperfect, the imprudent, and the impatient mothers who know that all this stuff is really very funny if you just give it a minute.
See more of Marianne's stories here.
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