Allison and I have reached an interesting point in Jack’s development. We are no longer simply keeping another human being alive. We are actively molding the qualities in him, aided by our love and experience, that will eventually make him the man he will grow into.
A few weeks ago, I was showing Allison the trailer to the new Godzilla movie with Jack in the room. Now, due to the nature of fandom and the geek audience’s love of the BIG REVEAL, you don’t actually SEE a giant lizard attacking a city in the video. However, during a seemingly benign moment Jack jumped in fear. The tone, the music and the design of it, amplified by his developing sense of perception, created a genuine fearful reaction.
I mean for a second I felt like a horrible father, but I have to admit I projected how much I’m going to love watching movies with him when he’s old enough. So, via the learning curve of being a first-time parent I factored watching a video like that in front of Jack into the “I DON’T DO THAT ANYMORE” category. I’ve been doing that with a lot of behaviors of my not-so-distant past as of late. Some would call it progress. I prefer the label of “growth”.
But, for all the hugs and warm wishes, there it was. My son was afraid of the world…even if it was only for a second.
Now, I know what I would do to PHYSICALLY protect my son. How far I would go.
However, protecting my son from fear is a fool’s errand that, as a parent, I consistently find myself undertaking. I can comfort him and give him the knowledge that I will protect him to help ease the symptoms of fear, but I cannot conquer fear in myself, my wife or my son. Fear is vital. It’s a primary human emotion. It’s how we react to fear that can be subdued. Fear can lead to anger, resentment, depression and many more secondary emotions on the broad reactive spectrum. But it doesn’t have to. Especially if you’re willing to ask for help with it.
This is what I can help Jack with. I can help to teach him the tools to not let his fear control him. To feel it and not be ashamed of it, find solace or torment in it. I can help him learn to not be afraid of being afraid.
As I do this with him, help him learn, I am learning myself. In the meantime, I’m sure it doesn’t ever hurt to have Booga Booga, Winnie the Pooh, or Superman by your bedside.
Be well and thanks for indulging me and Jack.