What are you afraid of?
One of my twins asked me this question on the way home from swimming lessons last week. It was so random. They like to shout out the random, challenging questions at the oddest of times. And they expect an answer to all of them.
“What are you afraid of mom? Because me… I’m not afraid of anything!”
Sure seems like it some days. This particular twin is the first to start climbing things he shouldn’t like sides of staircases or the big slanted beams outside of a building. He’s the first to reach out and touch something too – like that time in Starbucks a couple weeks ago when he shouted loudly “Hey, mom… what’s this thing?” as he reached towards an officer’s taser. Lucking the guy was paying attention and jumped back in time.
I get tired sometimes telling him over and over to stop before something bad happens. But inside, I’m also admiring and maybe a little jealous of his freedom. He wants to try, taste, see, and explore everything. There’s something really beautiful in that. His last day of kindergarten this year, he earned the award of “the curious cat.” It describes him very well. I hope he never loses his curiosity.
“Mom… mom…. M.O.MMMM! I asked you a question! What are you afraid of?”
I had to think about my answer. I mean I never thought I’d have the opportunity to be anxious or fearful about some of the things that happened in the last year. It makes my rote answers to this very basic question seem a little silly now.
“I guess,” I said thoughtfully, “I’m afraid of the dark – not just the dark you get when you turn off all the lights but the dark of the unknown. I guess it scares me sometimes.” (Ok, a lot of times…)
I hope my answer doesn’t dampen his curiosity.
I hope speaking my answer aloud awakens mine.
So many dark unknowns have come our way and yet the slivers of light have still returned again and again.
So why can’t we let go a little of the fear and dream again of noble and improbable and beautiful things?
It may make all the difference.