Last week, an email my wife sent me, had these words in the subject line: We are doing this tonight. The body of the email contained only a link. Curious about what my wife and I would be doing later (hoping it was perhaps a sexual experiment of some kind), I clicked on the link.
And I was horrified. Because 1) it wasn’t about sex. And 2) because the link took me to a story about a mom who, upon cutting open her child’s bulb syringe (you know, the contraption that we use to suck the snot out of our kids’ noses), discovered that it was covered with black germ-harboring mold. Disgusting? Sure. Dangerous? Perhaps. Diabolical? Not so much.
Still, this woman’s picture of her child’s infection-filled nose sucker went viral faster than gonorrhea among college freshmen during the month of September. It was everywhere!
We use three bulb syringes to help rid our daughter Adeline’s nose of snot. The one we use most often is exactly the same one in that picture. And since we’ve had it since our Elias was born–he’s four and a half now–there was a definitely good chance that my wife and I were going to find out that we, too, were giving refuge to micro-sized terrorists in our children’s nose sucker.
I must say I was slightly excited to cut it open. Why? Who knows? You might have thought I was expecting to find a rodent or the cure for cancer or Courtney Love living inside the bulb of our nose sucker.
But as excited as I was, Jessica didn’t end up cutting open the syringe until two nights later. And what did we find? Nothing. Not one spot of mold. It was clean. Perfectly clean.
When Jessica brought it in the living room to show me, I said, “Well, you know I do clean it will soapy water every now and then.”
I’m not gonna lie, I really wanted to find Courtney Love. But I was also relieved and just a little bit proud that our kid’s nose syringe was a clean environment and was in no way harming our baby girl.
Various kinds of fear runs amuck across the Internet every single day. I called it “viral fear”–which could be a headline, picture, theory, idea, statistic, opinion, etc. that are written in hopes that we will emotionally react in devastation or disgust or “Oh, my God!” and then share the story, comment on the story, retweet the story, etc. By becoming “afraid,” we actually help spread the fear. And while sometimes our concerns are legit, other times we find out that every ounce of worry was a complete waste of time and energy.
When it comes to the topic of parenting, fear is a very convincing motivator. Why? Because none of us would ever want to think that something we are doing or not doing might be harming our child. We love our kids. We love our kids more than we can comprehend. And while many of us believe that true love casts out fear, many of us also know that sometimes loving homes can be havens for fear. And fear often causes us to be reactive rather than proactive, short-tempered rather than kind, spastic rather than thoughtful, and filled with worry rather be able to trust our instincts.
Thankfully, our reactive moment last week only set us back $2.99, the price of a new bulb syringe. But sometimes, more than costing us money, fear distracts us; it divides our thoughts between whatever it is we’re worrying about and whoever it is we should be paying attention to. And I don’t know about you, but the last thing I need is another online distraction stealing my time and attention.
Have you ever made a parenting move based on fear?
Written by Matthew Paul Turner