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Sunday, January 17, 2016

I’m a worrier.

I come by it honestly. My dad is a worrier. My grandmother, his mom, was a worrier. Other relatives are worriers. I grew up watching it, and I still can’t help it. I worry.

Now, everyone worries, right? It’s normal. But we sort of take it to extremes. I don’t think there was any medical use of the word “anxiety” when Grandma Morrison was growing up, but that’s what it is. I can worry myself sick. I’ve done it before.

Eventually, you recognize it. You deal with it. Maybe you try therapy, or medication, or other methods. You carry on. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, and that’s something I’ve come to recognize over the years.

With all this family history, I knew that there was a good chance that when I had kids, I’d have another generation of worriers on my hands. My older son bucked that trend. (Trend-bucking is something at which he is very talented.) The main thing he worries about, as far as I can tell, is if he can have yet another helping of dinner when I’m trying to cut him off.  (Ridiculous metabolisms: Another thing that runs in my family. Unfortunately, I didn’t get those genes.)

Then there’s the other kid.

He worries. It’s not to the extent that I’m worried (ha) about it yet, but he worries. He tries to take care of people: me, his dad, his brother, his friends. That’s the good part of worrying. I think we could do more with a bit more worrying about other people in this day and age.

But ... when does it become a problem?

While stressing about the weather forecast a few weeks back, I pulled open our living-room curtains to find big, fluffy white flakes floating through the sky to coat our lawn. He peered around me, let out a chortle of pure glee and exclaimed, “Snow! Awesome!”

I let him know that I did not, as a matter of fact, consider this to be awesome. He asked why.
Well, I said, it’s a pain to walk in, and to shovel, and it can be dangerous to drive in it. So, no, Mommy is not a big fan of snow, these days. Then I completely forgot about the exchange.
Last week, when there was finally enough measurable snow on the ground to make a small child happy, we bundled up for me to walk him to school that morning. He sighed as he stepped out into the brisk air.

“Ugh. Snow.”

“I thought you were looking forward to the snow?” I asked him as we set off hand-in-hand for school.
“Well, I was happy that there was snow. But I didn’t think that was right, because you said it can be dangerous, so I’m not happy about snow anymore.”

I felt about two inches tall. I’d taken away all his glee in the season ... a glee that I remember sharing at that age.

“It’s OK to be happy about the snow, buddy. There are a lot of good things about snow. You can have snowball fights, and build snowmen. I bet you’re looking forward to that.”

He perked up. We chatted away all the way to school, him extolling the joys of fun in the snow ... me lying through my teeth about how much I looked forward to it. It was a small price to pay to see that grin.

So, I’m going to try harder to not pass on the worry to the next generation. I may not always succeed, but it’s worth the struggle. I don’t want anxiety to be my son’s everyday companion.

Although I wouldn’t mind if he worried a little more about the state of his room.

+Jill Keppeler is trying not to worry about her kids. Of course. Follow her on Twitter @JillKeppeler or email her at

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