I forbid them from going within 50 yards of an ATV. Skateboards? Those are just a cast and a long hot summer waiting to happen. Pogo sticks? I think I’ve watched enough America’s Funniest Home Videos and YouTube clips to draw that line in the sand without looking back. I’ve 86ed even thinking about boarding small airplanes. Motorcycles…I won’t even dignify that with a response.

I don’t like trampolines without nets. In fact, I have thwarted would-be birthday party goers when I learn the party’s venue is one of those new trampoline arenas, or so-called “sports complexes.” I mean, really–a warehouse filled wall to wall with trampolines and sugar infused, hyper-underage guests? I would count myself lucky to leave with a fractured pelvic girdle.

I immediately throw away those tiny super bouncy balls you find in goodie bags because they look like the perfect choking hazard. I won’t let my children eat popcorn, grapes or nuts unless I am in the house for that same reason. I go to fairs and amusement parks but do not enjoy them. I’m too busy counting heads. I put up with balloons but secretly hate them. And I wish I had some sort of large, restaurant grade dish sanitizer I could use safely on grade-schoolers who come over to visit and coo at my newborns. (Remember that scene at the end of “Ratatouille” when Remi’s whole clan gets sanitized? Something like that.)

And even with all my worrying and rules, I feel I still have to carry a bottle of hand sanitizer and a tube of superglue in my purse at all times for when chins split open without the aid of a trampoline or a pogo stick. (Which I have had to apply more than once in a jam.) I am a fan of protective eyewear, helmets, seat belts, mouth guards and calling when you get someplace.

So is this clinical paranoia or does this kind of worry just come in the mail along with your first born’s birth certificate? When asked what his favorite part was of our recent romantic Hawaiian retreat, my husband answered, “Seeing you relaxed and carefree!”

It was an honest response. I mean, when was the last time I read a novel on the beach and fell asleep like that? Usually our beach vacations include my vigilant scan on the ocean waves for my boogie boarders, being within arm’s reach of my toddlers lest they get swept out to sea, and even with all my counting heads and forbidding them to eat the same food as the seagulls and pigeons, I still manage to frantically run up and down the sand searching for the one who wandered away for at least a few minutes every time.

But I am learning to let go little by little. This is why I am grateful to fathers during this mother’s day season. If it were up to me, my 11 year old would probably still be wearing floaties to the public pool. It was my husband who threw him in the deep end and made sure he came up swimming all those years ago. Now he’s practically part fish.

This month that same wonderful husband of mine is taking that same handsome fish out of the country on a humanitarian aid mission. Just reading the CDC’s web page on west African diseases was enough to make me want to forbid the whole thing. They’ll only be gone one week, I know, but do you know how many malaria riddled mosquitos can bite you in just one week?

But this is part of letting go, right? Letting your child learn and experience and come to realize he or she can make a difference. He’ll be with his father and part of a large group. He’s had all his necessary shots. He’ll be slathered in DEET and wearing long sleeves. It’ll be fine, it’ll be fine, it’ll fine. More than that, it’ll be amazing–a once in a life time experience! So why am I so filled with worry? It’s not like the region is dotted with trampoline arenas.

Forget the lions, now that would be a real cause for concern.


Margaret Anderson is a free-lance writer, BYU graduate, returned missionary, wife and the mother of five, almost six small children. Read more at www.jamsandpickles.wordpress.com