Odds are I'm going to be a father to a little boy come the end of this year. This is grist for my horrible mill of imagination which nightly ships bags and bags of paranoid flour to my dreams. Responsibility for a human life? Yikes. I have a hard enough time keeping the cat fed. The thing that worries me the most at night is a simple reality that has plagued me for much of my own life.

Some things are just beyond your control.

It's the random nature of life that scares me most. It's doubly true when it comes to children. I remember quite vividly thinking I had all the answers even when I knew oh so little. But then, consider the flip side of the coin: those henpecked children we all met that couldn't even blink without second guessing themselves. What's a potential parent to do? Consider the example of your own life in a new light, though the eyes of your parents.

When I was maybe six, we lived in a neighborhood that was a block over from a trailer park, far out of the nearest town. We would range far and wide from our homes, playing in the bush around our houses, late into the evening. The neighborhood was always filled with parents calling far and wide for their children to come home. As children do, we wandered far beyond where we could hear. My mother would get about four or five good yells in before the panic would creep into her voice. One fall afternoon, I was a ninja. The other "good" ninjas where hunting me, so I hid under a huge pile of leaves and brandished my wood stick katana while lying perfectly still. I let my mother call and call for me while lying prostrate, buried out of sight, hushing my own breath. When she found me, I burst from the leaves with a great Peek-a-boo intention in my heart, but I saw her absolutely awash in tears.

I can understand why I ended up washing dishes for a week. She must have been terrified.

It was not long after that my heart broke for the first time. Two sisters, Leeanne and Carmen, lived on the street kitty-corner to ours. Their father, like mine, was a tradesman, and he followed work to make his money. The local economy was in a slump, and the girls announced that soon, they would be moving away. To a town called Ajax, hours and hours south. I remember the word vividly, and I remember my fingers interlaced on the opposite side of their green chain link fence. Days later, the familiar house was empty, the girls far away. To my world view, it was as if they had died. I recall a conversation with my dad I had while kicking the kick stand on my bike off and on, sitting on my bike with nowhere to go. The vagaries of money and finances and economic downturns and putting food on the table were beyond me. He told me that sometimes, things happen that are out of our hands, and that you can let them push you around all your life or you can stand up and take control. It was about this time that I fell off my bike onto the concrete patio. I remember him saying "See?" and helping me up. I recall being confused about it for a long time.

I think I get it now.

The real spooky bit to consider are the times I can remember in my life where I was completely alone, left to my own devices and judgment. When the only things that kept me from oblivion were luck and innocence. I regularly tempted Fate when I played out at my great uncle's farm/junkyard, using thresher bars as balance beams, rubbing my fingernails and rocks and rusted nails on a huge spinning millstone rocking in a rotten wood frame, far up in the sandy hills lost to everyone. It was in those hills that I used to collect mosquito larvae from a stagnant pond. They danced in old glass Coca-Cola bottles, clear and green, wriggling their little buggy lives away in front of my eyes. I remember the grave concern I had in my heart for them, how gently I carried the crate full of swamp water down those steep hills, how I sat out on the front porch for hours just watching them live and die in front of me. Mostly I felt a bit helpless, impotent in my mothering abilities, without any way to influence the short lives my captive insect babies. I asked my mother "How can I help them?"

She said "Sometimes you just can't, honey. I'm sure they'll do just fine."

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