Saturday, July 5, 2008
In my recent attempts to avoid studying for the bar, I read Gabriel Garcia Marquez's "Of Love and Other Demons." Margaret loves this author for his ability to use phrases like "She had. . . a hunger in her womb that could have satisfied an entire barracks." and "she broke wind in pestilential explosions that startled the mastiffs" about the same woman. In a single paragraph.
The book begins with a young girl who is bitten by a rabid dog. Since I was reading late at night, my mind began to wander a little bit. What if Booker or unborn spawn #2 were bitten by a rabid squirrel or something, and didn't tell me about it? How bad would the symptoms have to get before I took him to the hospital? Would he still be treatable at that point? What if he gets Leukemia? How would I handle that? Our family has been remarkably healthy to this point (knock on wood)- but kids die all the time. Does our run of 33 healthy kids mean that we're due for some sort of tragedy, or can we stretch it to 36? Or 45? I began to sweat a little bit in our perfectly air conditioned home with our industrial strength ceiling fan.
One of the challenges of being a parent is confronting the infinite number of ways that THINGS can go terribly WRONG. Car accidents, lead paint, heights, choking hazards, genetic illnesses, industrial poisons, cell phone radiation, global warming, Walmart, water, pedophiles, psychopaths, mountain lions, scorpions, lions, tigers, bears . . . Oh My. The list can go on forever.
If I actually took the time to really worry about it all I would be absolutely worthless - even more so than I am already. I remember Rebecca saying once that if they're going to die, it's their time to die, and there's nothing you can do about it. I don't think she completely embraces that ideology, (she completed and locked her pool fence), but the point is a valid one to an extent. It's that nugget of truth behind the cliche that you can't be so worried about how they are going to die that you don't let them, and yourself, live.
Even with that minor epiphany, I did a little bit of research to make myself feel better. It turns out the mortality rates for kids under 14 in the US is about 8 in 1000. That works out to mean that we'd have to expand to 125 kids under 14 before we start really tempting fate. That seems unlikely. Dad's motorcycle accident might also work in our favor from an odds standpoint, not to mention all those families that just seem cursed with major calamities involving multiple fatalities in short time frames. I realize that this might make me a terrible human being, but from now on whenever I hear one of those stories it will have the positive connotation of meaning that our odds just get that much better. On the other hand, rabies is still untreatable once symptoms start showing up, and as the last sentence affirms, Karma doesn't owe me any favors. On that note, I'm going to go hug Booker and shop for life insurance policies. . .