My son, Zephaniah is an amazing little boy. I am a proud mommy. He makes me smile and I take delight in watching each little step he takes toward becoming the kind hearted, strong young man I imagine he will become. He is quick and highly verbal and pretty much a cool kid (I am not going to tell him all of this however, I’m trying to keep him humble). Zeph is also scared; of the dark, of being too close to the edge when hiking, of falling off his bike, etc, etc, etc… He is only four and a half so fear may seem par for the course but here’s the catch…he reminds me of me… How did it happen that he already shares my propensity for fear? Is it genetic? Did I mess him up already with my abundance of anxieties?
And one more catch… It turns out only mommy can help him work out his fears. You see in our family we have the fears and the fear-nots. My husband and my two stepkids, Kailey and Evan are the fear nots. They are ready to try anything anytime. Climb those rocks? Sure. Take that jump on your bike? Sure. Skydive? Good chance, but don’t worry, it’s not an option. Zeph and I, we are the fears. What’s crazy is Zeph has already figured that out. If dad (who he adores, by the way) pushes him to do something he’s afraid of he cries, fusses or explains “I’m just a little kid, I can’t do that”. If mom pushes him to do what he’s afraid of… He does it. Sometimes it’s difficult but he does it. We even have a system. We have silly fears and smart fears. Silly fears are things like walking down the hall in the dark or walking over a grated dock… No real danger exists. Smart fears keep us safe. We listen to smart fears. We tell silly fears to be quiet and we do what we want to do.
The theory may sound a little funny… But the look on his face when he conquers that fear, it is a beautiful thing. “Look mom, I’m a big kid”, he says, his face beaming with pride. And then I beam with pride… Because if I can help him overcome his fear… Well that’s just … Awesome!!!
Yesterday, he overcame a big fear. He learned to ride his two wheeler, with no training wheels. As I watched him I felt my stomach lurch each time he almost fell, those familiar fears returning, but I didn’t let it show, I gave him space, I let him fall, I made a video like any proud mom does. As I watched I realized my four year old can ride a bike. Which is really stinking cool! Plus, he can conquer his fears. He is already beating the same fears that took me … Let’s just say a while. And if he can do it… then so can I.