Aug 29, 2012 0 Share

Parental Paranoia

Baby looking over father's shoulder.

What can I say? August has been one heckuva month.

When it began, I was still childless. (Meanwhile, one of my high school classmates was preparing to drop her daughter off at college!) And now, I'm a somewhat experienced daddy!

There's nothing like kissing your newborn baby on the cheek. Or feeding her. Or carrying her around.

There's also nothing like starting to worry about what the neighbors think. For better or worse, here in 21st century America, people stay alert for any signs of child abuse or neglect, and even in ambiguous situations they tend to call Child Protective Services on the principle of “better safe than sorry.”

When you put this on top of the anxiety many of us Aspies go through every day—“Am I offending or even harassing someone or making a royal fool of myself and not even knowing it?”—you get a heaping mound of extra stress and even paranoia about how you're being perceived.

Oh yes, and we have to make judgment calls in a sleep-deprived state. Babies need to be fed—and changed—every few hours around the clock. And of course they may wake up and cry at any time, for any reason or no reason. (I'm really fortunate to have Emily to help—I have much more appreciation for what single parents go through!)

You see, our little K.D. (Kid Deutsch), like many babies, spits up quite a bit sometimes. And our lactation consultant has advised us to keep K.D. upright for at least 30 minutes after each feeding. So each time, we sit K.D. up in her car seat.

One fine evening, right after feeding, K.D. soiled her diaper big time … it even showed on her onesie. And our house has lots of windows.

I made the tough choice to let K.D. sit up as usual ... while (metaphorically) biting my nails:

What if someone looks through the window and sees our baby sitting in her own filth?

Will they just think I'm a rotten parent? Will they talk about us everywhere and so whenever we go out people will glare at us?

Will they take pictures and post them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Flickr, etc., so everyone else will figure “Hey, at least we're better parents than the Deutsches!”?

What do I say if the cops or sheriff's deputies or Child Protective Services come to the door?

Will I have to ask the lactation consultant to testify in court that that's what she advised us to do? And what if she says, “But I didn't mean to let her sit in a dirty diaper—everyone knows that!”? (If I had a dime for every time someone has said something just like that to me, I could hire a team of nannies for K.D. and not have to worry at all!)

Not to mention ...

Will the Washington Post or Washington Times, or maybe some other major paper or famous blogger, run a story: “Child Raising: Is It For Everyone? Should Autistic People Reproduce?”

On the other hand, if Emily and I do a good job with K.D., people might figure there are things Aspies can do as well as anyone else!

Epilogue: Nothing happened. I changed K.D.'s diaper and onesie about half an hour later without incident.