I was thinking last night about the things that are going to be different for Annabel than they were for me when I was growing up. There is always one of those lists that goes around at the beginning of each year that names the different items that will soon be history, like VCRs, encyclopedias, and rotary phones. One day Annie will say, “And then to do a class paper you had to look up a President in a book?!” And I will say, “YES, and the information was always wrong because the book was out of date!” and she’ll just look at me, uncomprehending.
But other than that literal stuff, I do wonder if I am going to be able to let her experience things the way I was able to. Obviously some of the things that went on when I was a kid are not things I would want Annie to do. She’ll wear a helmet when she’s on a bicycle (I could have avoided so many head injuries). She will not ride in the back of a pick up truck on the freeway OMG. My grandmother used to leave my brother and me in the car when she went into the grocery store, which is now illegal in a bunch of states. We LOVED the people-watching in the grocery store parking lot. We’d make up stories about all the people walking to and from their cars. I would never leave Annie alone in my car…she’d figure out a way to drive off without me.
Beyond the walls of my parents’ yard there are expansive hills with climbing trees, and I used to disappear for hours into them, returning home only for meals. My friends and I would spend hours up there unsupervised, and while we were good and trustworthy kids, now all I can think about is how many people out there aren’t good and trustworthy. I don’t know if it’s because of my loss or the fact that Annie is only two so I can’t picture it, but the idea of letting her go off into the woods for hours without an adult sounds insane to me. Even though I had the time of my life up there. Even though my friends and I were all fine (except for the time Tara got shot in the stomach with a BB Gun, but that’s a story for another time).
When I lay awake at night (thanks, insomnia), I worry about how I am going to let Annie grow up to be independent with her own experiences while still somehow keeping her inside of a carefully constructed plastic bubble that will protect her from everything forever and ever. It’s early and silly to worry, but I see myself in her, and I know she’s going to want to climb the trees and play outside for hours, and I need to start preparing myself.
But she can’t ever go in the back of a pickup truck on the freeway, never ever.