I Don’t Know

by Marinka on January 21, 2010

It’s overwhelming sometimes.
Haiti. Not Haiti. Everything.
The other day, I dropped off my daughter at a wholesome American after-school activity, basketball, and then as I walked down the street to the library and to buy some overpriced organic chicken breasts for dinner at the local overpriced meatmonger, I saw a car speeding at what seemed like at least 90 miles an hour up Sixth Avenue, in the West Village.

It flew up the avenue, running all lights, miraculously not hitting anyone. All of us, people going about their business, rushing, stopped and stared. And then three seconds later (all times are approximate!) a NYC taxi cab, with police lights flashing, came racing up the Avenue. I’ve lived in NYC close to thirty years and I’ve never seen an undercover police car, masquerading as a taxi cab in action. Do they take passengers when they’re not in hot pursuit? Are they the ones that always have their “Off Duty” signs on when I am stuck in the rain trying to hail one of their brethren?

Within moments, there were police cars everywhere. It was the stuff of Bruce Willis movies. The noise from the sirens was deafening and surreal and unfortunately reminded me of September 11th. Because that is all that I could hear then and now. The terrible sirens.

A friend of mine who had exited the subway a few blocks north told me that the police went on to flood the subway station. Did the lunatic racing up the avenue actually abandon his car and flee to the subway? Was he captured?

I don’t know. I searched every news channel when I came home, read every blurb in the next day’s newspapers and there was no mention of the incident.

A high speed chase in the middle of one of Manhattan’s prime neighborhoods got no ink.

And maybe that’s right.
Maybe we don’t need a write up of every terror that afflicts the city and threatens our lives. Because I worry enough.

I worry about bad things happening and it interferes with my being a good mother. I worry about field trips, I worry about strangers, I worry that the internet is dangerous, that New York City isn’t as safe as I want to think it is and that my 8 year old son told me that some guy on American Idol did a split and landed on his nuts.
“What are nuts?” I asked him. Because I could not believe that he knew that word.
“It’s the stuff that’s included with the dick,” my daughter said. 11 years old, ladies and gentlemen.
After the smelling salts were administered, I asked her how she knew THAT word. Seriously, you’d think that at some point I’d get a fucking clue and stop asking my kids how they knew stuff.
But she told me.
When she was coming back from basketball, she heard someone use the word on the subway.
“What did they say?” I asked. Because I’m not the sharpest crayon.
They said suck my dick.
“To you?”
“No, just in general. To everyone.”
And then she got home and was curious what dick was and she looked it up.
“ON THE INTERNET?” I gasped, imagining what the search term would dredge up.
“No, the Mac had a control-f function that lets you look up words.”
Which is why everyone should have a Mac. Because it’ll save your children from p’ornography.

But that was just a part of it, the part that I can blog about, and tell Husbandrinka and my parents about and amid off-stage gasps and “Oh, goodness, kids this, NYC that, the subway, haha.”

But I can’t blog about the part that terrifies me. The part that I cannot control. What if my children had been crossing the street on that random day? What if anyone’s children were?

The randomness of it all chills me.
I don’t know how we all get out of bed in the morning and let our children out of our sight for a nanosecond. I really don’t.

One year ago ...

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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa Rae @ smacksy January 21, 2010 at 7:25 pm

This is why I take anti-anxiety meds.


Ann's Rants January 21, 2010 at 7:34 pm

You made me laugh–or rather your kids did but that is not what is important.

The only helpful thing for me in these moments are to return to the actual moment. All that fear stuff is pulling me away from this moment when everything is fine–if not wonderful.

I think this is part of what drew me to work with grieving families, too. It was so uplifting for me to see people who have absolutely gone through what I would consider my worst nightmare and go on to find a version of happiness again.


Maureen@IslandRoar January 21, 2010 at 8:20 pm

Yeah, especially when they’re old enough to be out of our sight. Pieces of our heart just beat miles from our body, wherever they are.
Well put.


frogmama January 21, 2010 at 8:33 pm

That is IT. I am buying a bubble big enough for my family and moving us into it. Then I’m putting the bubble in an underground bunker and putting a shark tank on top of it in case someone tries to break in. After reading oodles of blog posts about everyone’s high anxiety lately, your post was the nail on the coffin. Please forward all responses to this comment in a sterilized baggy. You know, so it doesn’t get wet when it passes through the shark tank.


January 21, 2010 at 8:49 pm

We live in a world now where kids know too much. That is why I take it upon myself to teach her things before she learns from someone else. It sucks but I’d rather be the one answering her questions and not her 8yr old friend.


January 21, 2010 at 9:11 pm

As we both know, New York was much more dangerous when we were kids, and we managed to survive somewhat. You are seeing things from a mother’s point of view, and not necessarily from what’s real. And didn’t you know what a “dick” was at that age? It’s not like we lived in the era of “Happy Days,” which probably weren’t much like Happy Days themselves.

I probably would feel the same in your shoes. Parenting changes everything. But it is also good to remember what is real and not.


Marinka January 23, 2010 at 8:42 am

When I was 11, I don’t think that I knew if I were a boy or a girl.
I totally get what you’re saying about seeing the world through a mother’s eyes. I wish more people saw it that way.


maggie January 22, 2010 at 8:41 am

It seems the older my son gets the more I worry. Field trips, walking home from school, going to his friend’s house. I don’t think I will ever sleep once he starts driving. I always thought when he was little that I would worry less as he got older….wrong again!!!


Marinka January 23, 2010 at 8:43 am

DRIVING! That’s it, I’m never moving out of NYC. No one drives here. Well, except insane lunatics speeding around.


Crys January 22, 2010 at 9:23 am

I live in the sticks and I STILL worry about everything when it comes to my children. Neil said it best – you’re seeing it from a mother’s point of view…we CAN’T insulate our children to the outside world, but we can at least make THEM conscious of the creeps and clowns in their world.


Maravonda January 22, 2010 at 10:12 am

Marinka, I live in a sleepy little town n the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and the filthy language is everywhere. And up in the mountains, when I was 12, my cousin who was 11 was taken from a country road and killed, and that was 42 years ago. So the bad things will always happen, some where, somehow. I admire the fact that 9-11 is still so much with you, and yet you stayed to raise your children in a city that has so much wonder to offer, good and bad, and they will grow up with an open minded view of the world that can’t be taught from books. You are a good mom. They are going to be okay.


Marinka January 23, 2010 at 8:46 am

I’m so sorry about your cousin. It’s just so heartbreaking what tragedy is out there and how close it is.

And thank you for your kind words. Bad things, terrible things do happen everywhere. We all muddle through the best we can, but sometimes, it’s just too overwhelming. That was my week last week. Because of that car chase. In a sense, I’m grateful for the reminder.


rn terri January 22, 2010 at 10:18 am

I worry more as my children get older. We lose so much control when they get more and more freedom, and it scares the hell out of me……


the mama bird diaries
January 22, 2010 at 10:37 am

I agree. I was never so fearful until I had kids. I used to have a lot more faith in everything being ok. Bu then 9-11, then having kids, then too bad things happening to too many good people. It’s too much.

I love your kids.


January 22, 2010 at 11:19 am

oh god, me too. my kid and i can be running around the playground, and he will disappear behind a slide for a moment, and i will see in my mind, really see quite clearly, some dirtbag grabbing him and running off before i can do anything. or we’ll be crossing the street and i imagine some a**hole careening around the corner and … nevermind. these scenarios go through my head and then i try to shake them off so i can pretend to be a T-Rex or whatever more authentically. i want to be in the moment with him as much as possible, but it’s always there, the anxiety for their safety and well being.
i can say nothing helpful except just what i said: me too.


Kat January 22, 2010 at 11:34 am

It’s a frightening world that we live in and so much scarier when you are a parent. I worry about my three year old when I’m one room over from him. I think it’s just learning to manage the worries and not let them overwhelm us. (So when you figure out how to do that, please share.)

Btw. Your kids are hillarious.


heidi January 22, 2010 at 11:39 am

It was that kind of week over here too… taking two 5yr old boys (mine and someone elses) home from a bday party, we encountered a bus with a Georgi Vodka poster on it. Other boy started saying “oooooh, sexy tushie!!!” Then mine chimed in, having no idea what “sexy” means. Until now.


January 22, 2010 at 1:58 pm

There’s something wrong with my google reader… this post isn’t on it.

I live in a sleepy suburban town in Ohio, for Christ’s sakes, where everyone is the same. There are two Asian kids at the grammar school and they were adopted from China. It’s like a Norman Rockwell village where people look alike and stop at yellow lights and would never ever use profanity in public.

The point is. And there is a point, I swear. I worry about the same ideas. Every stinking day. I hope that one day it gets easier, not to worry as much. But I don’t think it ever does. That’s why there’s prozac.


January 22, 2010 at 4:17 pm

Oh, Marinka. This has been a sucky week for sure.


January 22, 2010 at 4:22 pm

The most disturbing thing about this post was that I have all these irrational fears every day and I have no children. The other day I was at Rite Aid drugstore and thought, “What if my mother dies and I never see her again?”

Then I started to obsess that because I said that out loud IT WAS GOING TO COME TRUE.


January 22, 2010 at 4:22 pm

And my mother and I don’t even get along that great.


anna see January 22, 2010 at 4:30 pm

I know, oh yes I know.

Thanks for sharing this. Even the part about the nuts. BTW, I told my kids what “nuts” were, unasked b/c I thought if he went around saying testicles he could get beaten up.


January 22, 2010 at 5:05 pm

All I can say is, yes. That’s me too. But I could never talk about it as eloquently. And…I take Zoloft.


christy January 22, 2010 at 6:43 pm

I don’t either. And I know people do it – you do it – but how am I supposed to do it with two children to watch later this year?!


January 22, 2010 at 9:49 pm

my fears for my son’s safety, and my own, kept me in the house and away from activities for a few years after his birth. i still shelter him. i always will. the world is different today than it was for me growing up. i know everyone always says that and people react differently to that sentiment, but i believe it. when i was a kid i did go to sleepovers, and birthday parties without my parents, was dropped off at the mall and skating rink, and played outside until dark. i would never let my kid do any of those things now. i try to forget about the bad, but the internet and the media keep me from doing so. i made an effort to explain to my 5 y.o. about what happened in Haiti and allowed him to see some footage on NBC {nothing horrifying} and he didn’t really understand it. it’s a step in the right direction. i need to figure out how to get things blocked on my computer, too. take care.


January 22, 2010 at 11:04 pm

Oh, grul, I am so with you. I drive myself nuts worrying about something happening to my kid. I have to do things to snap myself out of it, because I don;t want him to internalize it and be a worrywort. I wrote about this very issue a couple weeks ago (“putting the cock in hancock building”) about my husband taking my son to the top of the Hancock Building (dude to a 3 year old EVERYTHING is tall IS THAT REALLY NECESSARY?!?!?!?), and all the crazy momtrolly worrying i did while they were gone. And I still worry he’s gonna choke on grapes or hot dog pieces. but i try not to hover, and i don’t watch stuff on TV that will make it worse or give me new exciting ideas of what to worry about, like CSI or 20/20 or, like, Jersey Shore.


except i always look up what the thing was–if there’s a crash, or cop cars, or whatever, i have to look it up later to see. HOW CLOSE DID I COME TO DEATH?!?!?!? i have to know. Also. I work in a tiny well-off suburb (i LIVE in the city mind, you, but this is where i work) and one day we had to come away from the windows and close our office doors and stand in the hallways because some drugg addled chick had been chased by police into our dead-end office park and had gotten out of the car to run for the hills. She was armed. They didn’t want us near windows in case shots were fired. This was in the most boring suburb EVER. At least in YOUR story the undercover cops were in a taxi. That’s pretty cool. I wonder if they left the meter running when he ran into the subway.


January 23, 2010 at 1:09 am

I know exactly what you mean. It’s a scary world.


January 23, 2010 at 4:16 am

Oh my … that is frightening! Nuts to all that! Mayhaps a move to the country is in order? No?

I do miss NYC … and I don’t believe I ever saw, in the short time I lived there, cabbie undercover coppers! Unreal!



Happy Hour Sue January 23, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Me on Dec 30th, 2009: In midtown, with my children, after taking a Xanax over the anxiety that a terrorist attack is EXTREMELY likely during Christmas week. It’ll be fine, it’ll be fine, it’ll be fine…….
Me: Hello?
Husband: Are you near Times square?
Me: Why?
Husband :I’m watching the news and there’s a suspicious van- the police have it surrounded.

I am not equipped, people. I am not equipped for this level of stress.


Andrea's Sweet Life
January 23, 2010 at 6:05 pm

We had a terrible, awful, nasty storm come through here this past week. Things went flying through the air that have no business being picked up off the ground.

The night of the worst storm, as I lay there in bed and listened to the wind and rain and STORM outside my bedroom window, I mentally calculated exactly where the large trees outside my house would land if they got knocked over. I didn’t sleep a wink, because every single time? My calculations came up with RIGHT ON MY DAUGHTER’S BED. It’s really a wonder I don’t just strap her to my back 24 hours a day.


Kate Coveny Hood
January 23, 2010 at 7:34 pm

This is something that every parent can relate to. Someone once wrote about the birth of their child and said that when the baby was born, “fate took a hostage.” I wish I remember where I read that – but I thought it was brilliant. It so perfectly sums up the position we are in as parents of terrifyingly mortal children.

My children haven’t even started Kindergarten yet, so I very clearly remember a time when letting them stray more than ten feet away from me – or worse, let them walk out of my line of sight – was unthinkable. But every few months they walk just a little bit further away. I really do fear the time when they can roam the world at will without a trusted caretaker to watch them.

My first real experience with this fear was when Oliver started special preschool at 2 1/2. Since it was held in a public elementary school, he was picked up and dropped of by the bus every day. My baby on a school bus! I couldn’t even think about it. I just chose to believe that school buses were magic and no one ever got hurt on one (except for those poor kids in The Sweet Hereafter – but I try to block that movie from my memory).

I loved this post and the fact that you can be just as insightful as you are funny.


JulieBouf January 23, 2010 at 8:29 pm

I recently posted about how I was shocked my daughter knew about Chuck E. Cheese without me ever mentioning it or bringing her there. Wow, I am so ok with that now and greatful that she wasn’t talking about “dick” instead. Granted she IS 4, so that would have been quite an issue.

I’ve always been rather blase. If it was ok for us, it’ll be ok for my kids – but I’m changing. And actually, just got my anti-anxiety meds today as a matter of fact.


January 23, 2010 at 10:08 pm

It’s totally horrifying. When I was pregnant with my oldest, I had a complete breakdown one night after watching a preview for a short-lived HBO series about a girl who gets hit by a meteor and then becomes the angel-thingy that helps newly-dead people cope with the fact that they’ve died. I bawled my eyes out because once the baby was born, I was not going to be able to control everything. I wasn’t going to be able to keep it from getting hit by a meteor. It looks absurd in black and white, but it was really serious at the time. And there are moments when the terror of those meteors hits me again, when I gasp with panic about all the things I cannot prevent from happening to my children. And then I take another deep breath, and laugh with them, and help them with their homework, and push those thoughts back down.

This, I think, is the definition of parenting.


Noelle January 24, 2010 at 3:17 am

Every once in a rare while I entertain the notion of moving my family back to NYC and taking over my friend’s rent-controlled 2BR apartment–$700/month!!! Then I remember stuff like this–oh, and the smell of subway urine–and stop entertaining that notion. But I still heart NY!


SubWife January 24, 2010 at 11:03 am

I worry all the time. My kids are still little and there are times when I wake up in the middle of the night trying to remember whether I put the knitting needles, bottle opener or the sharp knives away from little hands. I don’t drive, and though I am dying to get my license, I am not sure if I will ever muster up enough courage or trust myself enough to drive with my kids in the car. I worry all the time.

The only thing that makes it better is seeing that logically bad things could happen much more often – how many times we had a near miss? A kid almost running off on the road, almost falling off, etc, etc. I repeat to myself over and over again that God is watching my kids and for every bad thing that happens, there must be a good reason, which I might never see or understand. I don’t want to go too deep into this discussion because I simply don’t like to think about these things too much. I worry enough.


Amy @ The Bitchin' Wives Club
January 24, 2010 at 6:03 pm

I’m not sure if it is because I live in a bubble of short-sightedness or the fact that I approach almost everything breasts akimbo (sorry, I am still giggling about that expression in yr post the other day)… but I rarely worry about anything like this.

That’s not to say I never worry. I do. I will worry away at any problem that presents itself, google incessantly to try and find answers and like-problemed people’s stories, and obsess over possible outcomes. But I only do that when something directly affects our family or a friend. I guess I am lucky, but also possibly naive. I pray that my bubble remains intact and nothing happens to any of us.


January 25, 2010 at 2:22 pm

We do it because we have too. Just like our parents did. And we hope for the best. Every single day. It’s all we can do.

I’ll tell you though, without kids, I’d have no grey hair and I’d sleep like a baby every night. But I’d never want that life. The worry is worth it.


Denise January 25, 2010 at 10:02 pm

Sometimes it’s nice to know that the endless thoughts are not just something I suffer from.


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