Last weekend, my mother-in-law treated me, my wife, our kids, our nephew and WW’s older brother to the Philly Pops’ annual holiday concert at The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts — or, as I like to call it, The Anxiety-Provoking Center for the Provocation of Anxiety in the Overly Neurotic Parent Who Fears the Accidental Falling from Great Heights and Subsequent Premature Death of His Children and Nephew.
The building itself was as spectacular as had my wife, mother-in-law and brother-in-law led me to believe it would be. An architectural masterpiece, really. Unfortunately, when I’m responsible for the wellbeing of three children whose collective age wouldn’t earn them entry into a bar, my ability to fully relax and appreciate my surroundings is greatly diminished … especially when said surroundings include a short and flimsy-looking glass barrier whose ability to keep them from plunging to their deaths the three rambunctious children are testing with tremendous zeal.
And as the kids fearlessly leaned against the glass and gazed down at the frightfully distant and unforgivingly solid floor below …
… I tried to remain as apparently unfazed as were the other three adults in my company by the fact that a half-inch-thick, see-through substance was the only thing keeping our children alive … but when Jayna, envious that the two boys were tall enough to look over the top of the glass, decided to try to pull herself up high enough to do the same, my thinly veiled anxiety began to break through the surface in large swaths … and when the boys decided to “help” her by placing their hands under her armpits with the intention of hoisting her upward, I snapped.
“Whoah, whoah, whoah!” I exclaimed while reaching for the kids, who, at that moment, were closest to my wife and her brother, both of whom have a much higher threshold than I for the taking of unnecessary risk.
Flashback to conversation my brother-in-law and I had on the way into the city just moments earlier…
Brother-in-law: I think my favorite sensation is the feeling you get from cliff-jumping.
Me: I wouldn’t know.
Brother-in-law: You’ve never jumped off a cliff into the water?
Me: Can’t say as I have. See, the thing is, I always weigh the risk against the reward. Is the feeling one gets from jumping off a cliff worth risking paralyzation or death?
I’m also a lot of fun at parties.
Look, it was high. Seriously high. Like, feels-like-your-cojones-are-sucking-up-into-your-lower-abdomen-just-from-looking-over-the-edge kind of high. (Ladies, that reference will mean nothing to you, but the guys know what I’m talking about.)
“Every ounce of parental instinct in my body is screaming at me right now to grab the three of them and pull them away from that glass,” I explained to my brother-in-law, who clearly was oblivious to the
highly unlikely catastrophe that was threatening to transpire.
Thankfully, my vigilance paid off, as not a single child fell to his or her death … which is why we subsequently were able to enjoy the performance, which took place in this spectacular auditorium:
Afterward, we went to dinner at a lovely French bistro, where I again had to assume my superhero persona in order to save the children from the evil votive candle on our table, which they couldn’t stop toying with despite repeated requests that they keep away from it. Being the
easily irritated douche heroic and reasonably protective parent that I am, I decided to neutralize the threat by snatching up the candle in a mini-hissy fit and blowing it out with way too much force, a sequence of events that resulted in me spilling candle wax all over my hand, shirt and pants.
I might need to loosen up a bit.
But, hey: The kids didn’t light themselves on fire … and it was all thanks to my
woefully short fuse and utter lack of impulse control selfless act of pure heroism.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to saving everyone from imaginary disasters. (Are we beginning to see a pattern here, people?)
Wuss. Not only did I jump off a lot of cliffs back in the day, but they were in Johnny Cash’s back yard. That? Was worth the risk.
Phew – all the superhero stuff can be exhausting!
You did the ABSOLUTELY CORRECT THING standing by the children who were about to fling themselves gleefully over the top. What kind of n00bsauce puts up that kind of flimsy barrier above such a height? I mean to say! Craziness. Although I do not have cojones, I know exactly the kind of feeling you’re talking about. You are definitely a hero in that situation. Your family should be thanking you for setting aside your own enjoyment to selflessly care for the welfare of your children.
OTOH, the candle was no biggie & chilling was in order. Though I guess if you blew the candle out it did chill, huh? Huh? Eh? Eh?
Am I the only one who doesn’t know what a n00bsauce is??
I apologize. I have teenagers and they have infected my speech patterns with their insanity.
A newbie is someone who is brand new at something (ie a game on the internet) and therefore has no idea what they’re doing and blunders around.
Newbie was shortened to “Newb” – or “noob” or, more properly, “n00b”
“Sauce” was added because sauce makes everything better.
Didactic Pirate says
I’m with you. You’ve just described how I’ve been for the last nine years. No one else believes me, but I’m convinced I’ve saved my daughter’s life at least three hundred times since she was born. Daily.
I can so identify with this!! I started to hyperventilate (literally) when I had to go into the MARTA station in Atlanta with Lil Daughter. Trains whooshing by at 70 mph in 20 foot deep death pits…Makes my stomach knot up even now.
Glad the kiddos survived the concert!
I love your blog! You are too funny! And you did the right thing, so pat yourself on the back (carefully).
Hurray! I’ve been checking for weeks — welcome back. I do understand — a couple of years ago, I was in an Alaska national park, only about 10 feet from a surprised young grizzly bear. The only thing between us — a 10-year-old girl who was a stranger to me. My first instinct? I had my hand on her collar, getting ready to yank her out of the way. I have no idea what her parents would have thought of the crazy lady if I’d done it.
If it’s any consolation (which it most likely isn’t) I had slight anxiety attack at the picture looking down. And I have done the same with my irrational thoughts…b/c they aren’t truly irrational if there is less then a 1% chance it could happen…right??
Just fyi to ease your mind, those glass rails are structurally designed. 🙂 They’re safe.
Erin H says
Wow, I totally could have written this (if I had your
amazing talent for words, that is)! I am always the one hovering
and trying to keep myself from interfering while the children are
“playing,” while the other parents are wondering what the imminent
danger is and whispering about the crazy, overprotective mother.
Holly B says
Oh I cant do heights at all. My knees started feeling
wobbly when I looked at the first picture. Found you through The
Bloggess !! Glad that I did.
I thought I was the only nutcase that worried about things like that. Glad I am not alone! You’ll have this same feeling when you son starts driving and you are in the passenger seat…
I also react violently to stranger children and flimsy glass barriers (and other everyday dangers), as well as to my own children (of course, GAWD!). And I also do not have co-whatever you called them and a I cannot spell, and I also know the exact feeling. I’m guessing it’s the sphincter that causes this feeling? Perhaps we could make a fleet of neurotic human diamond manufacturers!! YAY!
Also, it’s my New Year’s resolution to delete the word “also” from my vocabulary.
Also – the end.
(Love your blog – 2010 also kicked my ass, though not nearly as badly as it did you – here’s to 2011!!)
Oh, I’m the same as well! Wait until they are teenagers and
insist on doing and front and backflips all the time, you know, in
the street. I’m not sure I’ve exhaled at all this year. With an
older brother and sister who are very…erm…athletic?, my four
year old has no real fear of anything. I have found that if I spend
all my time with my hands on either side of him, about six inches
away from his actual body and periodically make strange strangled
noises whenever he even gets close to the edge of something, I can
keep him from having any fun at all plunging to his death.
Laura from Fargo says
I toddled on over from Pioneer Woman and have spent the
last forty-five minutes reading your posts aloud to my family. I
had to stop to run and pee when we got to this one. GREAT stuff;
thank you for sharing!