You’re such a loser

06Aug11

Occasionally I will have a moment where I think, “Holy shit I have kids. I created humans, and no one thought to stop me.” I don’t know what’s more frightening to me in those moments, the fact that I actually have children or the fact that I’ve put my gene pool into circulation.

People think I’m kidding when I talk about Irish people and their inbreeding. I’m not. It’s an island. At some point relatives had sex with each other. Hell there are people on both sides of my mom’s family with the same last name. There are some physical problems that come with the inbreeding (cholesterol, connective tissue and reproductive issues, mostly) but they pale in comparison to the mental health impact on our branch of the family tree. Anxiety, OCD and depression run rampant. We have an unconfirmed suicide. If people aren’t on meds, they certainly should be. Neuroses, criticism, and martyr-like tendencies also exist. And let’s not forget our social skills. Most of us aren’t as bad as my great uncle who lives alone on an island as a hermit, but there certainly isn’t a social butterfly among us. Growing up I thought it was normal to hide when someone came to the door and to have a secret ring for telephone calls. Not so much, apparently.

It’s fairly easy to see how this is perpetuated but hard to know what came first. Are we socially awkward because we’re depressed and anxious or messed up because we’re socially awkward? It probably doesn’t matter. An introvert is unlikely to marry a major extrovert so nature and nurture conspire to keep the social awkwardness going. Thus far I’ve married an almost pathological introvert and a socially clueless person who doesn’t really give a crap, so I wouldn’t exactly say I’m bucking the trend. I didn’t know what it was like to be outgoing and have lots of friends. Even if I had been born that way thanks to some genetic fluke, it’s unlikely that either of my parents would’ve known what to do with me.

I’m totally aware that I’m socially awkward. I’m totally aware that I’m can tend toward depression and anxiety. I’m also aware that the three are inextricably linked and reinforce each other. I do have friends that I really like and enjoy spending time with so I clearly have some basic level of functionality. It falls apart when it gets to small talk with strangers or new situations. I end up getting nervous, saying something inappropriate about my vagina and then silently telling myself what a loser I am. Well, I guess it’s not quite as bad as vagina-related Tourette’s but I am known to have a hole in my thought bubble which is exacerbated by nervousness.

This is the hand that I’ve dealt my children. Genes appear to have produced what I feared in both of them, but in different ways. M is me. She is quiet with people she doesn’t know, crazy and loud with those she does. She’s smart, she does better one on one, she loves books and is prone to being nervous and anxious. Because of who I am, I worry about her. I worry because that’s just what I do and because I know what it’s like to grow up that way. I wish for her to be confident and comfortable with who she is, happy and peaceful but I don’t know how to make that happen or if it’s even possible given what she has to work with. Maybe I’m just projecting.

Then there’s F. She seems sure of herself, more social, not as timid. I worry about that too. I worry that I won’t know what to do with her if she wants playmates and has lots of friends. The thought of all the small talk and inane banter I could be forced to make with other moms makes me want to poke out an eye. I worry both that I won’t know how to relate to someone who is not like me and that I will see her as the success to M’s failure, at least in the psychosocial arena.

Someone really needs to up the screening requirements for parenting.

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