Monday, September 27, 2004

Mama's boy

I noticed something unsettling while watching my son play with a group of other kids at a family get-together the other night: I am some kind of ridiculously overprotective mother. The kids were running all around a big yard, front to back to front, riding bikes in the driveway, throwing balls, pushing scooters, carrying on until well after dark. None of the other moms or dads felt a need to do more than listen for screams while they sat and chatted; even my husband seemed content to let our son roam with the pack. But not me: I could barely keep my seat for 10 minutes before I was drawn to where he was, to watch, hawk-like. Poor kid can't even go out to play without his mommy hovering around.

And really, I'm okay with that. FASD means never having to say you're overprotective. I'm a believer in the theory that fetal alcohol exposed kids need an "external brain," and it's hard for me to be his when he's outside and I'm in. He'd probably be fine without the constant supervision a fairly large part of the time, but it only takes one ill-timed dart into traffic or ill-judged push of a peer to turn a fun evening into a tragic one. You don't have to read very much about FASD to notice that things like ill-timed darts into traffic are a major cause of death for these kiddos, or that hawk-eyed mamas are a major protective factor. Independence is not a major goal for an 11-year-old with fetal alcohol effects. Staying safe is. So I trail along, prompting and redirecting, advising and preventing, hovering and smothering, doing my job. But yes, sometimes I do feel a little silly.

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