Monday, July 5, 2010

The Overprotective Parent

My dad was the kind of guy that took us fishing in alligator infested, snake-filled waters. We would climb into his rickety old john boat with approximately 25 plugged leak holes and paddle out sans life jackets to the perfect spot. If we happened to have the inconvenient burden of having to pee, Dad would hold us over the alligator/snake infested water so that we could do our business. Really quietly though, as we did not want to scare the fish. I cannot speak for my brothers but as I got older, I learned to just hold it and pee at the gas station on the ride home, without seat belts of course. And sometimes Dad let us ride in his lap and steer. Hi mom! 

Dad was really good at helping us get over our fear of large, menacing dogs by making us pet them. "They can smell your fear, Alyson. Hold your ground and show them that you are in charge." And his advice if said vicious dogs tried to attack us: punch them in the face. Yep, punch them in the face. Umm, I was 6 and I'm pretty sure that any dog bigger than me left me paralyzed with fear. But more importantly, if my scrawny little fist tried to punch anything I would be in more trouble with the dog to begin with. Okay, maybe it was a cocker spaniel. But it was known for biting and that is really scary for a kid.
Note: the only time I knew of my dad punching a dog in the face was when he was running and a Chow attacked him. That dog was going for the jugular and he had to get it off of him. We didn't go around beating up dogs. We are huge animal lovers, rest assured. 

My dad didn't have the eye for potentially dangerous situations like my mom did. He was more of the adventurous parent. If there was something that we were afraid of, dad saw it as an opportunity to teach us how to overcome that fear with little regard for the possible dangers involved. At least that is what I can gather from times when he brought an alligator home and kept it in our back yard and encouraged us to pet it. I thought all dads were like mine. While moms have eyes in the back of their heads, every dad I knew only had 2 in the front and they were typically watching the game instead of the children. So naturally I assumed that JD would be like my dad. Oh how wrong I was. 

JD is super overprotective of Beatrice. He makes sure the soft cooked carrot dices I prepare for her are quartered and given 1 at a time before she is allowed to consume them. He even cuts Puffs and Cheerios in half. He flenches every time she ventures onto the hardwood as she may crack her skull open. He inspected the crib to ensure there were no suffocation hazards. We ended up removing the bumpers then reinstalling them because we couldn't decide which was worse: broken legs from her getting them stuck in between the slats or burying her face in soft, pillowy padding. Sometimes he follows me up and down the stairs when I am carrying her and it makes me think that he is there in case I trip and fall with her....

Actually, it is kind of nice that he is so cautious with her because I am not. I mean I am, just not to the degree that he is. I am more of my dad with her. When she goes for the tiny piece of something under the chair, I cheer her on because she is discovering new things. But later when I realize it was a cat litter nugget (eww eww eww), I wish I was more like JD. I am not concerned about her bonking her head when she crawls under the ottoman. I think it is good for her to figure out how to get out from under it. She usually just cries and I pick her up, but 1 day she will figure it out. I'm certain. I guess I like to let her explore at her own pace and not give her as many boundaries as JD does. This drives him crazy. I think we are a good team though and we really do appreciate the other's parenting style. I think he is glad that I am more apt to let her try things for the first time (with lots of supervision) because he is not. He still likes to feed her halved Puffs instead of letting her do it herself. 

My sweet dad died 10 years ago so there is no threat of alligator wrangling fishing trips without life jackets or introducing her into a canine fight club in the near future. But if he were here, he'd get a kick out of watching her explore on her own terms. With mediocre supervision of course.


  1. I couldn't help but see your title and think of my husband, he would keep the kids locked up in the house if he could LOL.

    Found your blog through blog flow and am following.

  2. Ha! I think there should be at least one in every family! Thanks for following!