Parenting sometimes seems to be long periods of mind-numbing tedium, interspersed with moments of white-hot terror; parenting in the OhNoSecond. For those that do not know, the OhNoSecond is that moment when you get a sudden hit of adrenalin as you realise that you’re about to plunge over a precipice into a pit of pointy sticks and bitey animals. It’s the Fight or Flight instinct kicking in and it seems to happen a lot to me.
I think most people develop preternatural senses when they have children, in order to prevent their genetic line dying out the minute it learns to sit up and reach for the power socket. This makes for a hypersensitivity to potential and perceived danger, so I often jump at things that I would never even have noticed in the past.
The one that seems to occur most is when I am in the car; Mapera is chanting away to herself in a slightly sinister monotone, Kaitereo has resorted to repeating “MaperaMaperaMapera” in a bid to get attention, and then some small part of my brain starts to tap on the shoulder of my subconscious going “there’s something not quite right here” tap tap…tap tap.
I am usually in ZombieAutoDrive mode by this time, having zoned out the constant noise from the back seats, when all of a sudden the little bit of brain that is in charge of Panicking and Leaping breaks down the door shouting “YOU HAVE FORGOTTEN THE THIRD CHILD!!”
At this point my head is instantly filled with visions of my baby sitting on the side of the road, howling like an enraged, alcoholic Buddha as I drive obliviously away. My rational brain knows that I can’t have left him behind, but my inner Cave-Mum takes over shouting “BABY GONE! BABY GONE!” I twist my rear-view mirror around to try and see if he is in his car seat, and 9 times out of 10 I see his feet wiggling around in happy, solid reality; but occasionally, he has shifted a bit out of range and then real panic sets in and I have to pull over to the side of the road and race round to his door to check he has not thrown himself from his car seat in a desperate attempt to fly.
I have tried to counter the problem by having Mapera’s car seat secured next to his on the back seat, so I can ask her if her baby brother is there. This works most of the time, unless Mapera is having a moment of concern and says “I can’t see him breathing” and the whole Cave-Mum thing starts all over again.
It is times like this when I seriously consider agoraphobia a sensible lifestyle choice.