Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fear Itself

When I was a child, I was scared of so many things. The top two were the purple bunny on my dresser that I was convinced was coming to life at night and our basement. The basement held numerous terrors. It was dark. It was damp. There were strange noises that came from various equipment, like the furnace or the sump pump. I was terrified to go down there by myself. So, I’d do what every child does. I would drag my little sister with me. I could count on her always being a little more frightened than I was. I think it gave me a shot of bravery to have to console her.

My mother would call us ridiculous for acting this way about the basement. She thought it was even funnier that I believed the bunny would wake up and hop into my closet each night. At the time, I didn’t understand how she could be so flippant about something that I truly believed was happening and that scared the bejesus out of me. Now, as a parent myself, I realize what I must have sounded like each time I brought this up. Or, how frustrating it was for her to ask us for something in the basement, only to have a huge production made out of going to get it.

B and A watched a scary movie the week before Halloween. Nothing inappropriate- mind you. It was the PG rated Harry Potter movie. I thought this would be a good compromise in our Harry Potter ordeal. I was wrong. They are bloody terrified now. Since we’ve seen the movie, they will no longer go upstairs without each other. They dart full force up there, grab what is needed and rush back down. They have even tried to cajole their three year-old sister into going up by herself to get whatever may be needed. They won’t go in the basement. (Hey, I don’t blame them there…) Once it gets dark, they swarm to me like moths to a flame. All of this is driving me crazy.

The first two nights after we watched the movie, they couldn’t even sleep in their own beds. We told them they could cuddle up in ours and that we’d move them once they fell asleep. They were so terrified that when T went to move them, they woke up crying, begging, pleading and grasping for me, our sheets or anything that would let them stay right where they were.

Part of me feels terrible about this. Obviously, they were not ready for the movie. In my defense, that damn H1N1 flu must have made me delirious. We were trapped inside for almost a week and a half and had already watched everything under the sun. They had put the pressure on and I caved. I knew they might find it scary-everything is more clear in hindsight.

However, there is another part of me that thinks this is hilarious. I know, what a mean mom. I wish I could capture the looks on their faces when they have to go upstairs. Their eyes dart around. They give each other the nonverbal, super twin language look of “Dear God. Has she gone completely mad? You know you are going with me, right?” I have no idea why I find this funny. But, it sooo is. Maybe because I am the one old enough to realize that Voldemort doesn’t really exist and he for sure is not in our house upstairs. There are some really cool, spooky mansions out there to haunt. I don’t think he’d choose our red brick colonial in the suburbs-if you know what I mean.

But, they don’t know this. They believe all is real still. So, for now they are frightened. I am treating them kindly, going forth gently with reminders of what is real and what is pretend. This, of course, does not include discussions of the big man in the red suit coming in a few months.

Our fears can get the best of us. They can hold us back and cause us to not go places where we are uncomfortable. Why do we hold on to these things? Why do we not break free as easily from what binds us? What is the hold they have on us? All we have to do is turn on the light. See what is before us. Take action and grab the fear itself. Embrace it. It helps if we have someone to go with us. I’m sure glad I do. I believe it’s time to face some of my own fears. I don’t want to be held back anymore. I want to continue to go forward in life. There is more that I want to do and accomplish. And, it’s up to me to try. Has anyone seen my sister? I need to go in the basement…


  1. Your words certainly ring true. Fear is a very powerful feeling. It seems to be the ultimate "dream crusher" doesn't it? Best wishes as you move beyond your fears. This is just what I needed to face some of mine.

  2. Being a fearful ninny about so many things, this post really resonated with me.

    I hated going into the basement as a kid, too. And my girls hate it now. It's dark down there, ya know?

  3. I was scared of sharks as a kid. I never recovered from seeing Jaws. I was even afraid to use the toilet after I saw that movie.

    My kids are afraid of dogs. Someone once told me that fear is an irrational emotion so you can't rationalize it away, which is what I would try to do with my kids.


    Have you not seen any horror movies?!?!

    I am so there with you. Their trepidation invokes such pity and yet makes me want to double ove in laughter...

  5. Oh no, that stinks about the Harry Potter movie backfiring!

    And if you think you're a mean oldest is TERRIFIED of spiders, and I get a certain giddiness about SORT OF waving the kleenex SORT OF near her when I come in her room to kill it. Just a little. (giggle)

  6. That's too funny. I think the flu delirium has gotten me a couple of times too. But fear is a very real thing to the little ones...and some of those HP movies are really scary!

  7. Being a twin myself I can totally relate to your twins. I used to be (ok, I still am) terrified of of them could jump on me! My big sister (by 15 minutes) would always run at them and scare them away from me. I love that your twins have the same non-verbal communications that my sister and I used to. I imagine my mom got a kick out of us on a number of occassions :)