By Alice Bradley
Eight years ago, when I found out that I was pregnant with my son, Henry, I was thrilled. For approximately five minutes. And then I began to worry.
My default worry is my son. There's no rational cause for concern here. Henry is a great 7-year-old. We are, by all objective standards, incredibly lucky. But still my brain goes around and around, like a hamster with a furrowed brow on his Wheel of Doom: What am I not doing right? How am I failing as a mother? Didn't I forget to do... I don't know... something?
"Oh, just you wait until he's a teenager," my sister, Liz, cautioned me. Liz has two grown sons. Liz is a positively tranquil soul compared to me, but being a mom will, it seems, knock the calm right out of anyone. "Wait until Henry is driving, or until he has friends who drive. That'll take years off your life."
"Oh, Henry won't be allowed to hang out with people who drive," I explained to her. "Or with any people. We're going to buy him a pet rock. A soft one."
I'm pretty sure my sister thought I was kidding.
A month or so ago, I found myself agonizing over Henry's sudden dislike of school. One day he came home, tossed his backpack to the floor, and announced that first grade was boring. Oh, and also, there was absolutely no way he was going to college. More school? No, thank you. Henry repeated similar sentiments over the following weeks. No more school for him. Feh.
Alice Bradley shares her adventures in parenting her son Henry on Redbookmag.com. Click here to read more from her.
I was in turmoil. What had happened to my little boy who cheerfully skipped all the way to school on his first day, who couldn't wait to dive into his homework assignments? Had school somehow squashed Henry's innate love of learning? I whimpered all of this to my husband, Scott.
"First of all," Scott sighed, "he didn't skip to school on his first day. Second, you do realize that kids just... say things, right? That they don't always know what they're talking about?"
"I don't know," I said. "He seemed to really mean it."
"So why don't we talk to Henry's teacher?" Scott asked.
Well. That particular strategy had never occurred to me. Worry, I have found, tends to turn me just a little bit dim. Talk to the teacher? When I could simply chew on my knuckles and picture my son the school-hater sitting in jail because his intellectual potential was never realized?
A few days later, we did indeed meet with Henry's teacher, and she offered to give our son some extra challenges. Naturally, I worried that such a simple solution wouldn't be enough. He probably needs an entirely new school, or a special tutor, or college! His genius is too far advanced for first grade! Despite my misgivings, however, her plan is working out fine. Henry hasn't complained once about school since.
Now that I don't have to worry about Henry's academic progress, I find myself with quite a bit of extra time on my hands. Which might be why today I Googled "earthquake New York area chances of certain doom." I would tell you what I found out, but I don't want to worry you. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to buy some jugs of distilled water and a few hundred rolls of gauze.
Alice Bradley also shares her adventures in parenting at finslippy.com, momversation.com, and lets-panic.com. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, son, dog, and cat.
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