Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Perceived Threat

We were on our morning walk this week when my oldest suddenly slammed on his bike's brakes. This almost caused a pile up of a stroller, brother, mom and dog. I asked him why he stopped and he said, "I'm scared I'm going to fall in!!" with a quiver in his voice. I looked over his shoulder to see what might be causing his fear and saw a tiny sliver of a crack in the sidewalk.

Our neighborhood is only a few years old and the sidewalk was poured less than two years ago. This is the very first crack in an otherwise pristine walkway. Considering I rode my bike on sidewalks that were lifted a full six inches by tree roots, this didn't seem like much of a threat. Still, I didn't want to immediately discount it.

"Are you bigger or smaller than that crack?" I asked him.
"Bigger!" he said with certainty.
"Right," I told him. "So can you fit in that hole?"
"Probably not.  But I wonder what is small enough to fit into that hole" he said.

He set out on a quest to find something that might work.  He tried a rock then a leaf and finally found the winner with a blade of grass.  We compared that tiny blade of grass to his bike and talked about how vastly their sizes differ.  

It was exciting to watch him try to figure out the problem without much prompting from me.  He stopped and did not want to go on until he understood completely.  He perceived a threat but learned that it wouldn't cause him any harm.  He learned that because he took the time to explore it.

There's a lesson to be learned from him.  How often do we try different solutions without getting frazzled?  How often do we stop and listen until we understand what threatens us?  Sometimes it is just a crack that won't cause any harm and sometimes it is more.  But until we take the time to explore and overcome our fears, we are immobile.  I would much rather move forward.  Wouldn't you?

How can you help your children and yourself overcome fears real or imagined?  

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