I fear, I fear, I fear – reverse Works for Me Wednesday

Remember when I told you about that trip we made to Upper Canada Village when Reid kept singing the “I feel, I feel, I feel” part from the song Shoo Fly, Don’t Bother Me? Well, that song is in my head again and for sadder reasons. Since shortly before Halloween, Reid has begun to be afraid of things. Not afraid in the sense of leery about attempting to jump from the platform at gymnastics or jump off of the wall into the pool, but afraid of things for abstract reasons.

Reid didn’t wear her Halloween ponytail decorations that were shaped like bats because they scared her. She likewise refused her black shirt with appropriately placed arms bones and a rib cage that glow in the dark. We read a book called Skeleton Hiccups by Margery Cuyler a couple times and then it had to come out of the line up. The one about Ten Timid Ghosts by Jennifer O’Connell remained acceptable (though I thought it was the  creepier of the two). Maurice Sendak‘s Where the Wild Things Are was rejected at first glance although I cajoled Reid into letting me read it to her. When we were done, she pronounced it still scary and it sits on her bookshelf.

About 4 am this morning, Reid woke from a bad dream. She asked me to take her to sleep in the “big bed” with Daddy. As Ken doesn’t sleep well with Reid in our bed, I told her that it was too cold in there – and that was true enough as far as it went. After a few moments, Reid told me that she was scared. I told her that I’d stay with her, that Daddy was in the next bed, Grandma Joyce was on the main floor and Aunt Karin was in the basement. We would all take care of her, I promised. Another pause followed and then Reid said, “I ‘fraid of bullies.” That was a surprising sort of confession, I thought. I asked whether there was someone at daycare who wasn’t being nice to her. She said there wasn’t. I told Reid if someone was being a bully she should say, “Stop! That is not a nice way to treat me.” And also that she should tell one of the teachers about it. I told her she could use the same approach at gymnastics, Kindermusik and elsewhere. I asked if these were places that she’d encountered a bully. Reid said “no” to all options. I wonder if she saw something on television or in a book. Since I don’t watch everything with her or read all of the books that she sees, I’m not sure what to use as a starting point for a discussion about bullies.

When we had problems with Boy X at daycare, I looked for books about bullying appropriate for preschoolers and found nothing suitable. If anyone has a good book in mind, please let me know.

But Reid’s fears, it turns out, aren’t limited to bullies. She also told me that she is afraid of big houses. When I asked if she considered our house to be large. Reid refined the problem. She is, she said, afraid of tall houses. I reiterated that I would stay with her to keep her safe and Ken was just in the next room. I think she told me about another fear but I can’t pin the memory down. I’m an early bird but it was a bit too early for me. Reid settled down after awhile and finally fell back asleep.

I’m sad that Reid is developing fears of things that she has no direct experience with being threatening. It’s healthy to respect innate danger and such fears give Reid a challenge to overcome. These new fears are not ones that I can easily help Reid address. Working in the abstract and not knowing the exact nature of her existing fear, I’m worried about feeding the problem rather than resolving it. It’s easier with a baby isn’t it? Their needs are more immediate and concrete. I’m pretty sure that when Reid was a baby I envied parents with children who spoke to describe their problems while I contended with a babe who cried and needed be to decipher the trouble. It’s amazing how fast one’s point of view changes.

Any and all parenting tips for dealing with fears are welcome.

3 Responses to “I fear, I fear, I fear – reverse Works for Me Wednesday”

  1. I don’t have any great advice, but I wanted to let you know it’s probably helpful that you are taking her fears seriously. I was a very fearful kid and sometimes I wonder how much it would have helped to just have somebody tell me it was okay to be afraid and they’d stay with me until I wasn’t scared anymore.

  2. MomOnTheGo says:

    I’ll take validation of my current approach. That is a comfort, too.