I stopped going for my lunchtime swim because, obviously, I would not hear my phone ringing from the pool. I would not travel more than a few miles away from home or the school. Why?
Because I was convinced that at any moment the welfare office was going to phone and say something had happened to my precious offspring and I would have to do a mercy dash to the school. Or, worse, straight to the hospital.
And not just because of a grazed knee from a tumble in the playground, either: my worries – fears – PARANOIA if you like - were much, much worse. Highly detailed scenarios played out in my poor neurotic-mummy brain: first there was Enucleation via Scissor.
This one particularly haunted me and would play out in my mind the second my child was out of my care. He would be doing arts and crafts at a table, quite happily getting on with his work, when the shaven-headed bully child – present in every one of my child-injury based nightmares/daydreams - would appear, try to wrestle the scissors from my son's grasp, and, in a flash, have his eye out with them.
The mere mention of 'arts and crafts' or knowing a 'making' session was scheduled at school would have this horror-film playing on a loop in my head all day long.
Then there was The Sad and Lonely Death in Toilet horror. This one reached its peak half a term into my son's reception year, when the children were allowed to go to the lavatory on their own. Obviously the ONLY outcome of my child going to the bathroom solo was certain death: he would slip on the wet floor, bang his head against the porcelain toilet bowl, and lie there, undiscovered until home time.
My friend Fiona's little boy started school the same time as my son. "I am so, so worried," she told me, a day in, "That Ben is going to get lost at school and end up wandering the corridors for hours and hours with no one noticing."
It wasn't quite as bad as my loss of eye and death based fears, but I felt her pain. She was genuinely convinced this could happen, and was, therefore, agonising over it.
Mum of one Lisa had similar fears to mine - that her little boy would have a terrible accident at school, most likely in the toilets, and when alone. She was also consumed by the Choking Scenario and was wracked by anxiety every lunchtime, calming down only by 1.30pm when THAT call from the school office had not occurred.
The Choking Scenario was something I came late to, but I soon made it my own after reading an alarming amount of stories about children choking on cherry tomatoes. I began scanning the school menu daily and pre-warning my poor child of 'danger foods' – namely, anything small, round, and of an appropriate size to block an infant windpipe.
But it didn't end with horrific accidents and lunchtime choking: I also lost sleep (not to mention office hours) mulling over the possibilities of my terrified child being terrorised by the school bully, and plaintively crying for his three-miles-away Mummy in some darkened corner of the changing room, tears streaming down his face as he was mercilessly tormented by the same shaven headed child that wielded the eye-removing scissors.
Then there was fear an ADULT would be unkind to him and make him cry – a concern so horrid to contemplate that I could make myself weep just thinking about how his little face always crumpled at the merest hint of a harsh word.
My anxieties went on and on... worries he could wet himself in front of his peers, or, because of our relaxed attitude to nakedness at home, happily parade around in the altogether at PE changing time and be mocked for it throughout the rest of his school career.
It was concerns about bullying that blighted my colleague Penny's early days as a mother-of-a-school-age child - although hers were somewhat reversed – she was worried that her little boy was bullying all the other children.
'Edward was three when he started in the nursery class of a very posh private school," she says, "And he hadn't had a huge amount of exposure to other children - and was still a terrible two at heart - and I was quite worried that he might clobber his classmates. Unfortunately I was right to worry and many violent outbursts were reported over the next few weeks..."
My son is eight now, and has just started in Year Four. Obviously now, years on, I look back and laugh at my fears of death by toilet melodrama or eye removal via round-ended scissor - these days its all about fatal head injuries on the football pitch, abduction on school-trips and gun-toting madmen taking the entire school hostage.
And I still don't go swimming during school hours. Just in case...
Do you have anxieties about what could happen to your child? Or are you pretty relaxed once out of sight?
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