I am inclined to see drama and disaster in everyday things. It’s my vice. Never do my Mum and Dad board a plane home after a visit to Vienna, without me feeling a chill as I consider the fact the plane might fall from the sky. Highly unlikely. But possible. My husband often goes out for a run. Sometimes he is longer than he says he will be. A lot longer. Has he been hit by a car? Has he collapsed? No, he simply decided to do ten miles more than he had planned, but I am scouring the internet for reports of local accidents, or ready to call an ambulance (I don’t know the phone number for the police). My husband fondly calls me “a lunatic”; my mother fondly calls me “a pessimist”. I like to call it having an overactive imagination. Never is my disaster-inclined imagination rifer than when it comes to my Noah.
It’s very hot in Vienna at the moment and Noah has a slight fever. The top windows in his bedroom lift out. I wanted my husband to remove them in time for Noah’s bed, but my husband is AWOL at work. I got the stepladder out but I couldn’t reach them. So I have opened the bottom window, guaranteeing myself a sleepless night tonight even though it is far more likely Noah will suffer in the heat than fall out of the window. This leads me on to the first of the top 10 things I am constantly (irrationally) afraid of:
- Noah falling out of the window
We live on the third floor. By third floor, I actually mean fifth floor, because there are two weirdly named floors before the first floor (the names probably aren’t weird at all if you speak German). Anyway, we live a long way up from the ground. Our windows open straight out and if you should accidentally fall out of one, you are a gonner. When we first arrived, we insisted on a lock and chain being put on all of the windows. The locksmiths puzzled over this for weeks, as if the request were previously unheard of. My Mother (the very same one who calls me “a pessimist”) would wake up in the middle of the night worrying about Noah falling out of the window. She hounded me about this like crazy so I hounded my husband and he reluctantly hounded the locksmith and we ended up with windows that only open an inch unless you release the catch which is too stiff and fiddly for three year old thumbs to master. And yet. Tonight I will worry that Noah will get out of bed, drag a climbing device across his room to the window, open the curtains, lift up the blind, master the unmasterable window lock and throw himself out of the window. It’s never going to happen. But I am already imagining it.
- Noah throwing himself off the balcony
We have a very small balcony which overlooks the picturesque view of the rubbish bins at the back of the building. I only ever use it to hang washing over the clotheshorse. The balcony has apparently been child-proofed. That means it has had a Perspex sheet fitted around the iron bars, secured with plastic cable ties. In my mind, the balcony is anything but child-proof. Noah is forbidden from going out there but Noah is a child for who rules are made to be broken. We often have the balcony door slightly open because of the heat. I have been known to sit bolt upright in bed, just as my husband is falling asleep, and question whether the balcony door has been closed. Throwing the word “lunatic” over his shoulder, my husband throws the sheets off, stomps across the room and goes to shut the door. Why would Noah get out of bed in the middle of the night, find his way to the balcony, get himself a climbing device and throw himself off? He wouldn’t. But I cannot sleep if I know the balcony door is open.
- Running into the road
When we are out and about in Vienna, we always have Noah’s scooter in tow. He knows to stop at the roads and he does stop at the roads. But sometimes he lets go of the scooter and it rolls away. What if it rolled into the road and Noah, unthinking, dived after it and a car was coming? I worry about this every day.
- Coughing in the night
Sometimes Noah has a ten second coughing fit in the night and then there is silence. It always wakes me up. He has probably rolled over and gone back to sleep but I long to go in there and check he is okay. I am awake for quite some time, listening carefully for any noise. The reason I don’t go in there is because it is entirely possible that Noah is wide awake and me walking into his room will remind him of my existence resulting in him demanding the pleasure of my company until he falls back to sleep (which could take hours).
- Toys in the bed
Noah likes to take his toys to bed with him and he likes to put them in his mouth. He is not allowed to take his die-cast cars to bed with him in case the wheels come off in his mouth and choke him. But what if there is one in the bed and I haven’t noticed? The same applies to coins.
- Eating apples
Noah’s preferred way of eating an apple is whole with the core taken out and the skin removed. Sometimes he has an apple while I am getting ready in the mornings. I have been known to get out of the shower half way through washing my hair to check he hasn’t choked. I like to be in the room when he is eating that notoriously dangerous food, the apple.
- Sleeping well
Nothing freaks me out quite like Noah sleeping well. It’s so unexpected that I wonder if there is a catch. Is he okay? Has something happened to him? My emotional capacity lasts until seven-thirty and then I send my reluctant husband in to check on him which usually wakes him up.
- Something happening to him at kindergarten
Noah’s kindergarten is nothing like the nursery he went to in England. Noah comes home with scratches, bite marks, bruises, bloody knees and the kindergarten staff look confused on the odd occasion I ask them how he came across these injuries. In England, there would be an incident report giving a blow by blow account of the crime which I would have to sign as soon as I arrived to pick Noah up. When they go to the park, there is a member of staff at the front and one at the back. In between the children go marching two by two. That’s seventeen children between the ages of one and three, walking along a main road and crossing it to get to the park. Nothing ever happens to these kids; all the kindergartens here do it. But the UK nursery is my safety benchmark and the kindergarten here falls significantly short of it.
- Someone stalking and stealing Noah
For several reasons, I decided to put my Noah’s name and photographs on the World Wide Web and start up this blog. Some mummy bloggers (and there are thousands of us) don’t use their children’s names. Some don’t even use photographs. I made a conscious decision to use Noah’s name and to share facts about our lives. But what if someone starts reading my blog (a real bonafide lunatic rather than a novice one like me) and uses the details to stalk us and becomes obsessed with my Noah and takes him one day whilst I am daydreaming in the park?
- Adjusting badly when he starts school
In this instance, I am worried about Noah’s emotional safety rather than the physical. Noah isn’t starting school for another 14 months and already I am worrying about how he will adjust. He has been potty-trained for a year now and he still won’t go to the toilet at nursery. Will this pass by the time he starts school? Or will he hold his wee for seven hours instead of three? Since we moved to Vienna, Noah has not been looked after by anyone but me and my husband. If we get a babysitter for a night out, we cannot start getting ready until Noah is soundo: he somehow sniffs it out and refuses to go to sleep. Will he be one of those children who cry every day when their mother leaves him at the school gate? He cried for a month when he started kindergarten here. But everyone has to start school, don’t they? It’s an important life stage. Of course, what I am really worrying about here is my own emotional safety – my baby starting school? How will I cope?
All this isn’t that crazy is it? All mothers worry about their children, right? I’m not a lunatic or a pessimist really, am I?
Don’t talk to strangers, my Noah.