On Armadillos, Icebergs, and Other Futures I Can't Predict for My Kids
by Parent Co.July 05, 2017
There are dead armadillos all over Nashville. Their armored bodies litter the roads. Everywhere I look, a tail hangs limply over a curb. It's the armadillapocalypse. But this is opossum country. Don't armadillos belong in Texas? Don't you think they'd be more at home in the scrub brush?
The armadillos weirded me out, so I went to the internet…to be more weirded out. Apparently, armadillos are the status quo now here in Tennessee. There are emergency armadillo removal companies and articles linking them to leprosy. Leprosy. As if I didn't have enough to worry about already. I don't know why I get on Google at all anymore.
And then I saw in The New York Times that there's an iceberg the size of a small country poised to break away from Antarctica. Once it does, it will forever change the geography of the continent and thus make all the globes in all our attics moot.
Having kids ended my ability to take these developments in stride. I cannot watch the news passively or without spousal support. It sends me into a spiral of worry for their future – the big scary one where I'm an old lady unable to help them navigate the new continental divides and road kill.
I have spent a lot of time preparing for my oldest, who has cerebral palsy and will always need modifications for his world. I've had to plan for therapists and medical equipment and adaptations for school. We've already got wills and savings accounts and guardians to provide for him when we are no longer here. I'm working on communication, getting him to use more signs and his speaking device so that others can understand what I, his mom, instinctively intuit. I'm getting him ready for the rest of the world, despite my desire to build a snow globe and move our family into it.
It's the younger two, though, that have me worrying now. Their future is much less predictable. It's one full of freedom in a place I cannot picture. I worry about the increasing sexual exposure and the cyber bullying that smartphones and the internet bring. I worry about the clothes at Target aimed for tweens that look like underwear for Barbie. I wonder how I'm going to teach them to be responsible and level-headed, without being naïve, in a future I can't fathom.
As they are now – young and totally trusting in my parental prowess – I can wade into any situation to see if the water's warm. I can show them how to swing across monkey bars and why you should always tell the truth and wipe your bottom really well after pooping.
But I don't know how to teach what I can't predict. I don't know what environmental practices we should be adopting or what parental filters I'll need on my phone. What else will we need to do in 10 years' time to protect the world and us in it?
When I put Google aside for a second, I remember that I'm not sending my 80s kid-self into the future to fumble her way through. This isn't "Tron". My kids were born into this world and are already more comfortable than I am. My job is not to scream "Danger!" like the robot from "Lost in Space".
My job is to teach humanity. I want them to love every kind of person and love themselves and live by the values we uphold in our household. I want them to be honest, stand up for the bullied, and share money, time, and life with those who need it.
My job, as their mom, is to pass on the truths that will not change with time or geography. Sometimes the intangible feels more solid than the rest.