I’m pretty sure I remember being a kid. It’s fading fast every year, though. I remember not so long ago vowing to myself that I would never forget what it was like to be a kid and a teenager, because I felt that adults never understood what it was like and therefore treated me very unfairly because of this. I’m not sure my opinion on that has changed, but I’m also not sure I really remember exactly what it was like to be a kid and to be a teenager!
I remember being scared as a kid. Scared of a lot of things. Today I either blame that on my heightened imagination or all the freaky movies I watched at probably too young of an age. Now that Amalea (my oldest daughter) is taking swim lessons, I can remember – to a pretty late age (maybe 6th grade) – always being afraid that there were sharks in the pool… in the deep end where it was dark and cloudy. Of course there are no sharks in pools – it is silly to even think there is. A shark would die in a pool full of chlorine, and someone would have to A) catch the shark and B) put it in the pool. Yes, this I now know. But when I was a kid I was CONVINCED beyond a shadow of a doubt that there in fact MUST be sharks in pools; in the shadows that you can not see.
I remember being afraid of dinosaurs. I had a REALLY vivid dream of a T-Rex basically ripping my house apart and my family and friends with it (and maybe me too). It was a very hellish dream (like everything was red like there were fires burning or something) and I can remember being terrified at Disneyland going on the train that went around the park because it would go through this one exhibit where there were dinosaurs… and again… I was CONVINCED that they were going to eat me. No question about it.
I was afraid of roller coasters (didn’t go on one until I was in 6th grade, when I forced myself, alone, to go on Thunder Mountain at Disneyland – the summer of 8th grade I would get a season pass to Six Flags Magic Mountain and ride Batman, Viper, and Superman over and over and over), I was afraid of going in the ocean, I was afraid snakes (ok, I still am), and I was afraid of the dark (I had glow in the dark stars, christmas lights, stereo lights, computer screens, anything to illuminate the shadows). Even in high school, at the outdoor school where I was a counselor and had to take the 6th graders on a night hike – I was the one that was scared! And when I was in Africa, in a little house out in the Masai Marra (where lions and leopards live) – there was no way in hell I was leaving the room I was sleeping in to use the OUTDOOR bathroom in the middle of the night! I nearly wet my pants – I couldn’t even crack the door open and… you know… pee out the door because I was CONVINCED that there was a lion behind the door and if I even cracked it, I was a goner.
But I think what is even more pathetic than that… is the fact that sometimes I am annoyed when my 3 year old DAUGHTER is sometimes afraid. And I might emphasize SOMETIMES. She’s actually very brave. But somehow, I have forgotten what it was like to be CONVINCED (it didn’t matter what adults said… they were obviously wrong) that there was danger in the darkness, or dinosaurs in the country, or I was going to fly off the tracks of a roller coaster.
I need to be more patient with my daughter – more understanding and forgiving that her imagination is REAL, and INTENSE, and in a way – outside of her control. I need to respect her fears if I am going to help her get over them. Besides, a little bit of fear is not a bad thing… it keeps you from burning your hand on the fire – right?
So what am I scared of today?
Psychopaths. Crazy people. I mean, really crazy people – the type that would break into your house and rape your daughters and then slice your throats. Sure, they are out there – like maybe 1 in a million – but still – keeps me up at night. I’m not worried about myself anymore… maybe that is what becoming a parent does to you – it releases your own fears and replaces them with a whole other set of fears for your children. I’m afraid my children will become addicted to drugs. I’m afraid they will have an eating disorder – or run away – or be killed in an accident. Or less grousome fears – like that my children might be depressed, or made fun of in school, or that any punk ass boy (like myself back in the day) will break their hearts one day. These are my fears now… and I am CONVINCED – at times – they will come true.
I need to let go of these new fears. Ride the roller coaster of life and face them. Realize these fears DO happen – but that I can not let them handcuff me in life; terrorize me and keep me up at night.
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” – yeah, maybe. (-: