fear in parenting

one of my greatest fears about being a parent is that somehow, someday, one of my children will screw up so monumentally that reports of his or her antics are preceded by the words, “we interrupt your regularly scheduled broadcasting to bring you this breaking news update.”  you do all you can to teach your children to make good choices, to prepare your children for a good life, but what do you do if your child becomes a pimp, drug addict, serial killer, school shooter, prostitute, republican lobbyist, or wayward helium balloon aviator?

the media coverage surrounding “balloon boy” is astonishing.  i didn’t even need to watch the news or listen to the radio to hear the updates; through the blessed power of social media, i heard of the incident by reading frantic twitter and facebook status updates.  “OMG there’s a boy in a balloon!  he’s on a crash course with outer space!  he plummeted to his death!  but wait!  the ballon was empty!  where the hell is he?”

i cannot imagine the terror his parents felt as they searched for their missing son, assuming he was sailing high above northeastern colorado corn fields in a homemade mylar balloon. they were probably fighting venomously, “how could you LET this happen?  you were supposed to be watching him!  i swear, you turn your back on him for one second and he takes off in a UFO!  this is all your fault!”  and then to find the downed ballon empty!  where could he be?  did he fall out? was he never in there in the first place?  where the hell is falcon?

hiding.

in a box.

in the attic in the garage.

at home.

while the national guard and search crews are looking for him.

while Oprah has been interrupted so that news coverage can get every single detail as it happens

while air traffic from a major international airport is delayed because his balloon could drift into its airspace.

and instead of coming out of hiding when he heard his parents calling his name, he stayed hidden, allowing the panicked hunt to escalate to the national news, sending hundreds of patrol men and women on a wild goose chase to follow the balloon and start scouring vast land of tall grass and corn, searching for a little boy who may, or may not, have fallen out of his dad’s homemade UFO.

i’m sure his parents breathed a long sigh of relief to find their son alive and well, but also a twinge of “OHMYGOD what the HELL were you thinking?!”  maybe falcon didn’t screw up on purpose, maybe he was just playing a game of hide-and-seek gone wrong.  really wrong.  maybe it was just a prank.  maybe it was all a well-concocted shenanigan to get media attention on the family’s fancy flying machine.  but as a parent, your child’s behavior reflects on you, so i imagine his parents are wrestling with many very different emotions tonight.

if i were the parent in this situation, you can bet i’d be feeling relief, but also shame, gratitude towards those who helped in the fruitless search, embarrassment that my child’s antics were quickly brought to the attention of the national media when it really was not the big story the newsies were looking for.

i’m not in favor of spanking, but one might consider it when debating the proper punishment for a practical joke gone awry to such a monumental level.  shit, the news coverage of this event bumped Oprah and delayed air travel.  this kid is going to be feeling his parents’ wrath for some time, i imagine.

i don’t have a homemade UFO, so thankfully i won’t have to worry about that becoming my child’s specific monumental fuck up.  i still have to live in fear of the possibility of my baby becoming a republican lobbyist, however.  i better start preparing my shame and embarrassment now.  just in case.

edited to add: okay, his parents probably weren’t feeling terror when this incident took place.  they probably weren’t fighting venomously over whose responsibility it was to supervise the children and the balloon.  they probably didn’t even feel relief when their son was found because they had known all along where he was hiding.  he was never in the balloon.  this whole thing was a hoax.  so now, instead of the parents spanking the kid for his naughty behavior, i think all of america should get a crack at spanking the parents for concocting such an assbrained scam to get on a reality tv show.

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One Comment to “fear in parenting”

  1. I was just reading along…and then totally spit out my drink when you got to the republican lobbyist bit.

    I have a friend who rebelled as a teenager by reading Rush Limbaugh. Made his “femi-nazi” Mother CRAZY! (If Owen’s smart, that will be his tactic too)

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