Having a new driver is probably one of the hardest parenting challenges I’ve had to face. I’m sure I don’t need to spell out why; my readers are pretty smart cookies. Even though I have a responsible, logical, fairly cautious child with good reflexes courtesy of Crazy Taxi and Grand Theft Auto, I still worry.
When I was a new mom back in 1996, I was a world class worrier. Part genetics, part circumstance, I could not help myself. MOMS Club meetings? Please. Why would I willingly bring my kid to a Lord of the Flies Germfest! Old school playgrounds? Hello, are you nuts? Metal bars + gravity = permanent brain damage. McDonald’s Playlands with fecal encrusted ball pits? Right, thanks, I’ll take fries with that. I was never exactly a helicopter mom; we often didn’t make it to the airport.
By the time 2001 rolled around and I was pregnant with my second son, I had finally mellowed. I was a bit unrecognizable to my former self and would often wonder things like, “How did we ever have any friends?” How I got from Crazy Neurotic Nut to Something Resembling Normal is a long tale for perhaps another day, but let’s just say I got there.
In 2003, Disney Pixar’s Finding Nemo came out. As a hater of 99% of all children’s movies, I was surprised and delighted by how much I loved this movie. It should be required viewing for all parents. If you never saw it, I hope you will. If I had seen it sooner, I might have enjoyed my first early years of motherhood a lot more. This movie is therapy and entertainment rolled into one.
I’m not great a plot summaries, but the gist of the movie is an overprotective fish father (Marlin) goes on an adventure to find his lost fish son (Nemo) and meets a cast of interesting characters along the way. He enlists the help of fish Dory, who is footloose and fancy-free. And, of course, they live happily ever after. But the following exchange sums up everything I need to remember about parenting:
Marlin: I promised I’d never let anything happen to him.
Dory: That’s a funny thing to promise.
Dory: Well, you can’t never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun for little Harpo.
So here I am, in 2013, finally drawing upon my stored up wisdom from Finding Nemo. The ocean is a terrifying place full of peril and danger, but that’s life. As my friend Heidi said, what’s the alternative? Chain him to the bed? All we can do is dive in, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming, and try to enjoy the adventure. Safe travels, my little fish.