Ask any parent what their worst nightmare is and then immediately cancel any plans you had for the next three days. Because that’s how long they will take to answer you. Because parents are worried about everything.
For instance, among my top ten worst nightmare scenarios as a pregnant mom of a toddler are:
- A serial killer named Meatclaw kidnaps my son
- I go into labor on the day the hospital runs out of epidural
- My son turns out to be awesome at soccer and all my weekends have to be spent sober and pretending to like soccer
- My grandchildren will have to participate in The Hunger Games in the dystopian future, which they will lose because no one in my family knows how to shoot an arrow OR how to do a fancy side braid
- I get cancer and die. My husband, overwhelmed with grief, gets tricked into marrying my vapid, bimbo nurse Trixie after my funeral and she then raises my kids to be the kind of humans who genuinely enjoy keeping up with the Kardashians
- Prohibition comes back and I am arrested for Googling “how to make bathtub gin”
And none of those things address the daily onslaught of new things we as parents are told to be afraid of, like haunted mobile apps that possess children and studies that prove babies who didn’t learn Mandarin in utero will never get into college and helicopter parenting causing rebellious kindergartners to start stripping.
Of course, it’s not all death and destruction and illicit moonshine runs. The mundane can be almost as terrifying when you have kids. For example, at some point on that mental list that every parent has, probably down around No. 37, is the infamous nightmare of the missing sippy cup.
Oh god, the dreaded missing sippy cup. You know the one I’m talking about. It’s been on the back of your mind for awhile, the fact that you can’t remember the last time you saw it. And even though you’ve been known to struggle with anything above second grade math, you instantly do some fancy algebra in your head and deduce that there are three in the dishwasher, two in the cupboard, one he’s currently drinking out of and one being used as a load-bearing wall in his Fortress of Generic Blocks That Are Not Legos Because He’s Only Two and Mommy Is Cheap.
Which leaves one completely unaccounted for. And after some more fancy mental calculations, you realize it’s been unaccounted for since Tuesday. And nope. Not that Tuesday. Last LAST Tuesday.
And that’s not even the scariest part. The scariest part is that, unlike all of his missing socks (which is about 1/3 of his total sock population) and all those missing pens from the junk drawer, which I imagine are living blissfully together on some tropical island with all 12,000 of my missing bobby pins, missing sippy cups never stay lost. Oh no. They will mysteriously show up again. Right when their contents have ripened to their peak of nightmarish horror.
And despite the fact that when you asked your child to help you find this same very cup two weeks ago he just did a series of figure-eights around your legs while repeatedly asking “where go? where go?”, it always, inevitably, reappears in their hands when it makes its grand re-entrance.
And so when that moment comes, that moment your precious angel that you spent 36 hours creatively cursing and pushing into this world runs up to you with a brightly painted cup of toxic sludge, a million horrific questions run through your mind:
- How much spoiled milk can a 27-pound body take before death occurs?
- What strange alchemy must take place to turn apple juice that shade of green?
- Or…wait…I think this used to be orange juice.
- Does grape juice ferment into alcohol after baking for three weeks in the hot sun? And if it does, how much prison kiddie wine did my kid just drink before he alerted me that he found the missing cup?
- It would be wrong of me to finish the rest of the kiddie wine/fermented grape juice, right? Even if I’ve had a REALLY hard day?
- How worried do I need to be about mold, because there are no less than 11 blog posts littering my Facebook feed at any given moment about the dangers of mold growing in sippy cups.
The good news is that there is hope. More than hope, actually. There is a foolproof method to never losing another sippy cup again. And that method is to only let your child drink water from here on out.
A sippy cup full of water has never, ever been lost in the whole, long, sordid history of parenthood.