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I’ve been a bit tightly wound for as long as I can remember.
It isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though.
In fact, I’d go so far as to say that my jittery neurosis has served me well over the years. As a young boy, I was always careful about a lot of stuff that other kids often don’t think twice about — like being careful not to split my head open while playing.
Does that seem a bit sad? Are you wondering what kind of life that must be for an 8-year-old, always putting safety first?
I can’t answer that without bias, obviously. And if we want to get down to the stark reality of things, well then I even have to admit to you that I did, in fact, crack my noodle open on more than one occasion. However, life is funny and no one will ever know exactly how many more times I may have busted my skull if I hadn’t been so vigilant about not letting it happen.
You see what I’m saying here?
Being a neurotic kid wasn’t easy. But I may have saved my own hide more than once. Hell, I’m sure I did.
Doesn’t matter, though. Nothing about being a very careful child can ever prepare you for eventually shapeshifting into a parent with the same mindset.
I am well aware that raising a child under the flag of “Constantly Feeling the Monkey Bars to Make Sure They’re Not Slick with Morning Dew” is potentially detrimental to your kid. Especially if you’re hoping that they don’t end up as self-exhausting as you are. I am aware of all of this, and yet, I would submit to you that even if given the chance to rewind my life back 8 years and begin raising my 3 youngsters all over again with a much more relaxed — heck, maybe even lackadaisical — approach … I don’t think I would change a damn thing.
I like a clean house. And I like a kid who ain’t marinated in his own gum blood.
Because I’m a badass father. And I know it. And I admit that to myself even in my many moments of neurotic despair.
There I am, on a snowy Sunday morning, picking up Lincoln Logs and tossing them back in their tin can before the freaking kids are even done with them.
How crazy is that?! Right? Right?!?! I mean, what’s the point?
There is none. I should just chill, grab another cup of decaf (yeah, right), and cup it slowly to my nose and draw it in deeply as I watch the flakes fall quietly outside the window.
But I don’t. Because that’s not me. I don’t chill. I don’t breathe in coffee. I suck it down fast and by cup 3 I’m running around looking for specks of Pop-Tart to vacuum up. Or for ways to make sure that the caulk in the window frames is definitely not decrepit enough for a rattlesnake to push his way in on a frigid January afternoon.
I guess what I’m saying is that I’m proud to be a good dad — even if I am a touch neurotic and overbearing.
Because who cares? I could be worse. And the upside is that my house is always straightened up. Even when it’s super messy from kids being kids, I’m on it.
My sink is void of dirty dishes.
My rugs are lint free.
My kids’ Halloween costumes from every year are all tightly folded and sleeping in a plastic tub upstairs. (No they’re not labeled, smart ass.)
There are no stitches in any of my kids’ heads as of this moment.
School lunches for tomorrow are packed and in the fridge.
Air pressure on the Honda tires is set for optimum anti-car seat bounce.
And … the Lincoln Logs are so cleaned up that they’re back on the toy store shelf. Because there’s just too many of them to pick up over and over again.
Nothing about being a very careful child can ever prepare you for eventually shapeshifting into a parent with the same mindset.
What can I say? I must somehow, strange as it seems, actually like being this way. Just as I must subconsciously really dig following my toddler over to the playground to make sure he doesn’t slip and whack his mouth on the third bar of the iron caterpillar (because that is where the bend starts and he always gets a little shaky there).
I like a clean house. And I like a kid who ain’t marinated in his own gum blood. And I like feeling good about them feeling good.
I never seem to let up much, and it’ll probably kill me in the end …
But so it goes.
Serge is a 44-year-old father of 3 kids: Violet, Henry and Charlie. He writes about both Parenting and Relationships for Babble. Read more from Babble here: