Well, it's finally Summer here in Maryland (well, almost), but while the weather is beautiful, it brings with it a whole nother level of problems for me and mine. Well, let me adapt that to say: for mine husband. Now, every marriage has its problems-- not enough money, too many kids, not enough alone time, too much work... you get the point. But with summer comes an addition to our normal list of marital disputes.
You see, I was raised in the country where my mother would kick us outside, lock the door, and not expect to see us again until lunch-- at which point we'd be locked back outside until dinner. We swam in a creek, chased fireflies at night, and knew that if we saw a snake we needed to run (not because it would chase us, but because a sibling would chase us with the snake on the end of a stick). And that about sums up my summer childhood. It was wonderful and innocent- although I'm sure my mother's memories involve a lot of our complaining about it being too hot, and who hit who first, and who threw whose shirt in the creek. But memory is a wonderful thing-- we can choose only to remember the parts that we want to use to justify our current actions. And I am forced to do that each summer as, for some yet completely understood reason, I married a man from suburbia whose idea of summer fun was lying in an air-conditioned house watching tv.
And therein lies the root of our annual dose of summer fighting.
My husband is a paranoid father. He is convinced that barefoot children means we are going to have to take out splinters and stingers nightly (I myself am always barefoot); that swimming is going to result in the drowning of at least one of our children (and he didn't think it was funny when I pointed out that we'd still have at least three... so... survival of the fittest?); that ticks are covering the heads of our children and they all should be shaved bald for safety (ticks, schmicks. I never got lyme disease, they won't either); and that dogs carry all sorts of diseases. (Well, the dog issue tends to last year round. Specifically, if he sees the dog scratch himself he goes into an angry monologue about fleas in the house and the need to enforce a 100% dog-outdoor policy. I was pleased to inform him that the Howard County Animal Control frowned on that.)
And while I say "Let the kids enjoy the sun!" He grumbles about the dangers facing them out of doors. The only thing we tend to agree on is that sunblock isn't necessary, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Personally, as a pale freckly skinned woman prone to sunburn, I love to watch my kids get darker and darker each day they spend in the sun. And I think JMahl appreciates that during the summer the kids look more like him than they do me, although he'd probably never say that out loud. (Aw, shush-- I do put sunblock on the baby! and the rest of them when I remember...)
Granted, the older two have somewhat outgrown his fears. Sure, he still got upset when I showed him the video of Kayton (our 8 year old) flying Winslet-DiCaprio style on the bow of my father's sail boat. ("Are you trying to end up on the 10:00 news?") and when Mason (our 7 year old) is excited to tell about the crocodile he is certain he saw at the pond down behind our house I have to listen to "You let him go down there alone? Do you want to never see him again?", but in general, he's loosened up a bit with them. Or maybe he sees them as a lost cause.
But in regards to the two little girls, he's as paranoid as ever. Take for example, the wading pool. Like many mothers of toddlers, I went to Target and bought a cute little blow up wading pool that holds maybe six inches of water. And the little girls love it. The Father does not. He is convinced that Micah is going to drown in this pool. He's gone so far as to inform me that Micah is NOT allowed in that pool. Period. I went so far as to ignore him. What type of cruel mother would I be to hold a screaming, fighting, begging to get in the water one year old on the sidelines in 95 degree heat as her three year old sister splashes and frolics with her bucket and water toys? Now granted, maybe JMahl wouldn't be so paranoid if I hadn't told him about having to rescue a possibly-drowning Micah from an over-zealous water attack from Kolbie that left her flailing on her back like an upside down turtle in four inches of water... but, as I told him, that's bound to happen sometimes, and that's why the pool says in big letters on the side in four different languages: "Never leave children unattended". (Sad that the blow-up pool industry has to remind parents of their responsibilities, but hey.) JMahl, for the most part, once he realized I was ignoring his command, has taken to just avoiding the issue altogether and goes inside (air conditioning and tv) while the kids play in their water death trap.
But his paranoia has just recently hit an all new level, courtesy of the small red bump that appeared a few days ago on the side of Kolbie's neck. Me? I wasn't even thinking of it and definitely wasn't prepared when he asked me, in the serious voice that is most often reserved for test results and class bully issues, "what is that bump on Kolbie's neck?". So I looked at her neck and responded, quite aptly, with "a bug bite". Yeah, that didn't suffice.
Are you sure it's a bug bite?
Well... I'm not an expert, but it could be a bee sting.
A bee sting! How'd she get stung by a bee?
Uhmm... she's been outside all day, and I don't know that it's a bee sting, but it could be. Or maybe it's a mosquito bite.
Well... are you going to get it checked out?
(At this point he made a little sound of pure annoyance and I decided to leave the room before my own feeling of annoyance blossomed into something more.)
Fast forward two days and I decide to take Kolbie in to the doctor's to get her checked for a UTI. She's taken to having a lot of accidents and wetting the bed at night- something that is highly unusual for her. So I tell my husband at dinner last night that we had a doctor's appointment for today.
Oh.. you're getting her neck checked out?
Uh, what's wrong with her neck?
The bite! Aren't you getting her bite checked out?
Nooooo... you don't take a child to the doctor for a bug bite unless A/ she is having some sort of reaction-- which she's not or B/ you are crazy-- which you are, but I'm not.
End of the matter, right? So we go to the doctor's this morning, get her checked out. I come home and shoot my husband a quick email: "Doctor said she was fine. No UTI."
Response: "What did he say about the bite?"
Are you kidding me... did he really think...? So, sure. I did it. I lied. Because as paranoid as my husband is-- and as crazy as his paranoia makes me--- I love him. And sometimes when you love someone, you have to lie to them.
"He said it was fine. To bring her back in if she develops a reaction to it."
And Summer hasn't even officially started yet.