Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Are you a worrier? I’m not now but boy howdy was I ever as a youngster. Sorry. I’ve been watching too much Andy Griffith. I cried through most of kindergarten and half of first grade. Why? I have no idea. Ask my parents. My dad still mocks me for it. Yes, that was 35 years ago. I keep the peace by telling myself that harassing me about ancient history is an excellent brain exercise to fend off dementia. Anytherapist’swetdream, I had an ulcer in kindergarten.

They tell me it was from worrying and crying. I don’t know. I’m surprised they didn’t take me to the hillbilly witch doctor for that one, too. Strangely enough, having children cured me of being a worry wart. It seems like it should be the other way around but every day is Opposite Day in my world. I think my sleep deprived brain finally surrendered.

Out went all the unimportant information (phone numbers, names, and birthdays) and the ability to lie awake at night and wonder if the front door is locked and if the pizza delivery guy thought I was being sarcastic when I said “Good job on the quick delivery.” I’ve been in a blissful fog every since.

(So my kids *are* good for something after all. Other than scaring away vacuum sales people and inspiring random teenaged babysitters to abstain from sex.) In a Karmic smack down I have passed along the anxiety gene to my spawn. The oldest, Zach , is a more manageable Fretful Freddy as he agonizes about things like which internet browser is the fastest and how to download offensive music without getting caught. However, Jackson’s concerns are all over the place. If it is storming he *knows* that the power will go off and I won’t be able to find a flashlight (correct!) and we will all be struck by lightning and die.

If he has a field trip scheduled at school he wonders what time the class will leave, who he will sit with, if they will miss lunch, and if he will miss the bus home. When Jackson has to go to the doctor he assumes something bad will happen which will require much pain, screaming, and bodily emissions. (The child hasn’t had a medical procedure in 3 years.) If the Sunday school lesson is Noah’s Ark he will anxiously await the next big rain and practice his backstroke in the tub. Recently, a video game mentioned black holes. Jackson couldn’t sleep that night.

“Mom! I’m thinking of what would happen if a black hole swallows us up.”

Jackson says he remembers the first bad dream he ever had. He was 2 and “something came out of the vent to get me”. For years I’ve been telling myself he’ll outgrow this “phase”. Then I remembered that I was 30 before I outgrew it. Do you have any suggestions for dealing with a worry wart? I’m not willing to put my 8 year old on anti-anxiety meds. Yet. Are you a worrier or a free spirit?