I WORRY, THEREFORE I AM

It’s well known that a major part
of child-rearing is giving your offspring
things to worry about. I always warned:
Eating ice cream and drinking something hot
can crack your tooth enamel,

which I read somewhere. A friend was warned
as he left for college: Don’t sit
on cement, you’ll get hemorrhoids.

.
Did memory evolve as a way to retain
warnings about the world’s dangers?
Children spread their own culture
of anxieties, attributing danger
to the mundane: Step on a crack,
break your mother’s back,
for instance.
.
Perhaps our generation didn’t scare
our kids enough to rear them effectively,
over-reacting to our own years
of duck-and-cover drills, of constant
worry of where to hide when the Bomb
fell. Have we short-changed
our children? Nothing builds character
like excessive worrying.

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