And a New Phase of Worry as a Parent Has Begun - one mother's fears during her son's first year of public school

And a New Phase of Worry as a Parent Has Begun

Parents understand worry very well. Not only is the world a scary place, but babies and young children are just so fragile.

I remember worrying about my kids when they were both newborns. SIDS terrified me and, since both were born early, both were slightly more likely to succumb to it. When my oldest learned to roll over just before he turned 6 months, he loved sleeping on his face. I spent a very sleepless week worrying about him. I slept with the monitor glued to my ear. I got up every 10 minutes to check on him. All night. Every night.

Then the kids started to crawl and walk and started running into everything and falling. Then they started to play with their peers, peers who might push or take their toys because they didn’t know any better than my own children. Then my oldest started preschool and the worry about what he was doing and learning set in, even if he was away from me for only a few hours.

My mom likes to remind me that the worry never goes away; it just changes. She’s told me she spent many nights lying awake, worrying about my siblings and me, even when were became grown adults. All a parent ever really wants is to ensure their baby is safe and happy.

The earlier worries, as worrisome as they were, were easy to handle. I had full control. I was there, right there with them. Well, except when my oldest went to preschool. I’m a little bit of a control freak about how far I let my kids wander. I check on them throughout the night even though my youngest is now 2.5 and has outgrown the risk for SIDS. She still bangs her head on everything and I experience panic every time a goose egg pops up. My husband and I both have a background in neuroscience, so we regularly have conversations about concussions. There just isn’t a single cautious bone in her body.

But now I’ve entered a new phase of worry. My oldest is in Kindergarten and, while I’m glad he’s doing well and loves school, he’s away from me longer and I have to put some trust into the school. I have to hope they will keep him safe. My heart rate spikes whenever I hear about another school shooting. I freaked out a few weeks ago when the Saugus High School shooting occurred, especially since the school is just north of where we live.

Already my son’s school has been on lock down twice since he started in late August. The first was when someone hopped the fence and just wandered onto campus. The second was for police activity literally on the street right by the Kindergarten yard. We later found out they were searching for a stolen car suspect. And that the stolen car had a number of weapons inside.

I’m sure there are many parents out there who never had to do a lock down drill at any point during their academic career. I certainly didn’t. I remember fire and earthquake drills. After 9/11, my high school did a single disaster drill, where the entire school gathered on the field. Talk about one big target.

It makes my stomach turn when I think about my 5 year old doing lock down drills, about his school actually going on lock down. He’s a young child who still looks at the world with wonder. I hate that he’s also learning the world is a scary place. Though I am glad the school does take appropriate steps to ensure the safety of students and staff.

Sometimes I’m ready to pull him out of school. Kindergarten isn’t compulsory in California. I could easily home school him. But being in a classroom with a teacher and peers has been a priceless experience for him. He’s grown so much as a student and person just since late August. Things I never though he would willingly do, he now does with a smile and excitement. I wouldn’t feel right about pulling him away from everything the classroom has to offer him.

Right now, being in school is the best option for my son. I can’t protect him forever, and will eventually have to entrust his safety to others, like a future partner or roommate. The worry blossoms in my head every time I drop him off. I linger at the gate just so I can watch him play for a few minutes. He hates it. He hates that I hover. But I worry. I’ll always worry. Calls from the school outside of the weekly announcements call make my heart rate spike, but they’re not even every week and, most of the time, they’re just reminders.

Still, the worry never goes away. I have my fingers crossed that the next three weeks don’t bring any surprises. The winter break can’t come soon enough for me.

Drop in at the Mother’s Corner for more of my parenting posts or read about my journey into finding magic in motherhood.

13 Comments

  • Lisa R. Howeler

    The worry never does go away. I homeschool my children but the other day my son wanted to ride his bike down the street to a little store on the corner. It’s about a five minute walk from us (ten for me because I’m an out of shape fat butt) so like three on the bike but I was looking out the window, checking my phone – ridiculous. I don’t homeschool him out of fear, just to clarify. We had some issues with the private school we sent him to (like we ran out of money for one) and he was so traumatized he didn’t want to go back to traditional school for awhile.

    • kat

      Traditional school is definitely not for every child. I keep thinking I won’t worry as much if I were to homeschool, but your example puts it perfectly: we’ll always worry no matter what. I remember brushing off my mom’s worry while growing up, but now I absolutely get it. It’s scary out there!

  • Jenni

    I loved this! I struggle with this so much. My son will be starting school, but I always debate homeschool. I know the benefits of both , but the social aspect is why I lean towards typical school. Great post!

    • kat

      Thanks! We’re not homeschooling for the same reason. It’s so scary to send a child to school these days, so I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that the school will do everything possible to protect everyone.

  • ourlittleredhouseblog

    Wait till they grow up and start driving. Your mom is right, the worry starts once that little precious being is born and it never goes away. My daughter started preschool at 2 and continued going to school until she was 7 years old (second grade) and then I pulled her out to home school. We could not afford a private school. My son went up to age 6 and then we started homeschooling him as well. When high school started they both attended and enjoyed the school. It was a better school and in a different district then their Elementary school, which was terrible. Home schooling has it’s ups and down moments but my children just did not fit in with the public schools way of a one size fits all type of teaching. At least that is how it seems here in Arizona. For social activities I signed my kids up for the after school program from 3-6 pm. They played games with other kids, worked on home work, and did arts and craft projects too. I also signed them up for city programs like karate, dance, sculpting, painting etc…they had lots of opportunities to socialize. Parks and rec. programs through the city are pretty inexpensive. You always write such good post, love reading them.

    • kat

      My husband and I count down the years to when our oldest starts driving with a mixture of apprehension and excitement. I’m absolutely terrified of letting go of my control over them as they get older. It’s so wonderful that you were able to home school your children and provide opportunities for socialization. Really the best of both worlds. Every school is not a perfect fit for every child, so it’s so wonderful that there are options and opportunities within the community.

  • ourlittleredhouseblog

    Thank you and don’t stress, moms always worry. I have my daughter call me when she drives home from work late when it gets dark because I think I worry a little more then normal moms, but then, maybe not. The world can be a scary place.

  • heatherjo86

    I can only imagine the amount of worry you go through in a given day. I don’t have children and I worry about all kinds of things. When we were young we would stay outside and play all day, ride our bikes all over the place and our biggest worry was getting home before the street lights came on. Now there is no safe place, not even school as you mentioned. We are truly living in scary times.

    • kat

      It’s so easy to worry about everything these days. There’s so much uncertainty in the world. My mom’s childhood was much like yours and I often feel wistful about never getting to experience such freedom. I always imagined my kids growing up on a quiet street and getting to play in the street with neighbors, but that will never be more than a dream. I absolutely agree. These are very scary times.

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