Monday, November 16, 2009

On Fear

I just read a fantastic memoir by a Southern California writer with a terrifying, heartbreaking, fascinating story about surviving a plane crash that killed his father, his father's girlfriend, and the pilot, when he was 11 years old. The father had made him conquer all kinds of fears when he was tiny: skiing and surfing in conditions that are hard to imagine in any case, let alone trying to envision going through that fear as a young child. A parent these days would most likely go to jail if they subjected a kid to the conditions his dad inflicted on him. The irony is that the balance, instinct and confidence that he developed are what allowed him to escape that deadly crash.

C. (3.5) is going through a "Fireman Sam" phase. But of the six episodes currently available On Demand... only two of them can be viewed without a screech of, "I don't like this one! Change it!" He doesn't like it when someone gets hurt, lost, or if the story is otherwise too scary. He's a sensitive little guy. This morning, I was thinking about what it would have been like for C. to have a parent that made him confront and tolerate intense fear. As it stands, he has two pretty indulgent ones who don't like to scare him... perhaps to a fault. Some fear is clearly good, at least in the confidence that he gains from getting past it. (Case in point: preschool.)

He starts soccer tomorrow, which he says he doesn't want to do, presumably because he is scared. He'll go anyway, any probably like it a lot. But that's about the speed of my tolerance of having him confront fears. Now I can only hope that he won't be in a situation where he would need to be able to scale down an icy mountain solo in a freak accident...

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