The function of TV news in America these days is to keep parents in a perpetual state of shivering fear.
Child molesters! Guns! Gangs! Drugs! Disease!
And of course it will all become better if you wipe down your entire house with antibiotics, lock the kids in their rooms with educational toys, and take your anti-anxiety pills.
We do take reasonable steps to protect Andrea’s safety, but existing in a miasma of fear and paranoia is no way to live—hence our moratorium on TV news.
In an evil-genius kind of way, you do have to admire an industry that consists of showing you content to increase your anxiety, and then selling ad space for products that will lessen the anxiety just created. Kudos, Madison Avenue.
The other day I got a true taste of parent paranoia. Shopping with Andrea at Albertson’s, I turned my back on her for just a second to pick up some hot dog buns, and when I turned back she was gone. Just gone. No sign.
So I walked through the store looking for her. One circuit: no sign of her. Another, faster, circuit: still no sign.
What if some pervert abducted her? Holy crap. Should I abandon the cart and run to the parking lot? Argh.
At this point sweat was dripping down the small of my back. Some f–ing pervert must have taken her!
Then they paged me on the store speakers. Went to customer service, and she was bawling her eyes out as one of the staff hugged her.
Nobody said anything, but I could tell, oh yes, I could: Bad dad.
We debriefed after we got home, and she had gotten herself lost somehow and asked one of the staff for help, which was the right thing to do.
Still, bad dad.
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