Today I’m thinking about inherited things.
And I’m thinking about fears – some inherited, some learned. Some that seem to spring up ‘de novo,’ out of nowhere.
I love to be outside, but I loathe bugs and itchy grass. And honestly, the whole of Texas in August, while we’re just listing things. I love roller coasters but I’m scared of heights. There are many things that I never thought twice about before but that terrify me now I have children. I think Knox inherited some of my aversions – or maybe he’s picked them up, I can’t really be sure.
We don’t have television, but I get enough of the news. In some ways, our world feels safer than I’m sure it ever has before. Most of us have protection from the elements; we aren’t in danger of wild animals, the weather, or our neighbors raiding our property for food. But in other ways, I taste fear, overwhelming fear, all around me.
It can be paralyzing. I see what it does – it shuts us away. I’m not talking about the rational, almost DNA-infused fear that we have of things that will kill us and have for millenia. Snakes, spiders, large toothy animals. Or maybe I am talking about the same fear because maybe it’s nearly innate, but one we have to rally against and identify in our own heads when it comes, nevertheless. I’m talking about the kind of fear that breeds and hates. The kind that keeps us at home when we’d wanted to go out. The kind that keeps us from asking, questioning, opening, trying, or listening.
Knox is scared of sharks, but he can’t get enough of them. I remember being a kid and checking out a book about spiders from the school library and forcing myself to look at all the (disgusting, horrifying) pictures. So, I get it.
But he doesn’t want to swim in the ocean. He’s pretty adamant about it. Ignoring the fact that we have exactly no plans to visit the coast anytime soon, today I found myself emphatically assuring Knox that swimming in the ocean is fun and wonderful and most people do it and are never even near a shark. It’s really important to me that he gets that.
I don’t want my son to miss out on swimming in the ocean because of the sharks. Any kind of shark you can imagine.
I want to raise someone who is bold and wise, who will do things and speak up and live because of what and Who dwells within him.
… Except four-wheelers. He can’t ride those.
How do you talk to your kids about fear?