I must have done something in a past life that has left me with this bizarre sense of guilt. I’m not talking about the usual stuff — the Mom Guilt, that I’m not doing enough, good enough for my kids, or the Eco Guilt, when I forget my cloth shopping bags and have to get a plastic one, or the Politico Guilt, where I can’t wait for the stupid midterm elections to be over because I can’t stand to see any more of those damned negative ads at six a.m.
Nope. This is the guilt that has no name. It’s the feeling I get when a pass a police car — or, even worse, when one follows me for a mile or so. I wonder if I’ve committed some random traffic violation, or if the kids are quietly misbehaving and I can’t hear them because Taylor Swift is warbling too loudly from the speakers — like the time when Cooper stood up under his seatbelt and hung out of the window and I got pulled over and reprimanded because he wasn’t buckled up properly. There’s always a not-so-faint sigh of relief when trooper and I part ways.
Or like the times I’m in the grocery store or Lowe’s and Joanna or Ellie do something naughty, like help themselves to apples or climb up a lighting display, and I have to give them the what-for, and they start crying and screaming for Daddy, and I have to wonder if the other shoppers think I’m a child abductor or something.
Or when I’m waiting at the bank for my deposit to be finished (remember when you used to do that instead of using the ATM? The tellers still have lollipops, in case it’s been a while for you.) All those security cameras. Me, just standing there, waiting. Nothing to do. Nothing to read. Shifting from foot to foot. Surely I look guilty of something, despite the kicky handbag from Talbot’s my sister gave me.
It’s good that we live in a society that works hard to protect us from bad people, that provides the means for locating said bad people if a crime does occur. It’s nice to have well-meaning citizens around who would intervene if a child was in danger. But sometimes the constant monitoring starts to feel a little too Big Brother-ish. Since I’ve already got two of those, I can do without a third, especially one that is omnipresent.
Sure, let’s work together to create a safe and healthy world for all people. But if you wouldn’t mind, take a step back. Maybe two. I just have a silly thing about others invading my personal space.