I watched my son today play with his toys. He was standing in an empty box, playing with a puzzle toy and leaning side to side. Without warning, the box under him lurched and he almost fell, catching himself barely on the edge of the table.

I watched him and -my- heart skipped a beat. I was quite frightened by his almost accident, even though I smiled with relief that he had caught himself and even felt a touch of pride at his coordination. I smiled around the room (at nobody, since it’s just the two of us here) with that apprehensive relief.

Then my smile faltered and I realized something.

He had slipped, and he never missed a beat. He righted himself with quiet practicality and resumed play without ever glancing around, with no relieved but slightly unnerved smile or look to Mama for reassurance. It was as if he had never slipped and he never even batted an eye.

While yes, I am proud of his quiet self-sufficiency, it makes me wonder why -I- react to my fear the way I do. Why do I look around for reassurance to the folks in the room? Why do I need to take time to catch my breath if I have a close call? If it’s such a natural adrenaline reaction, why does my kid not even blink?

Okay, so he’s young. He may not understand the fear of falling because he hasn’t fallen very often. Which… is bunk, because he’s fallen pretty frequently. I think it’s just because he registers that he’s not hurt, all’s well, there’s no need for fear, and so there is none. He’s got a brief moment of startled attention and then whoosh- on to something better!

I wish I could react to my fears that way.


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