“Mom, I’m scared,” he tells me tonight. So many nights are like this that it’s easy to get frustrated with the kids. I lose my temper. I yell. Going to sleep is just so hard… for all of us.
But tonight, for a change, I remember to be patient. I ask him what he’s afraid of.
Bears. An animal we’ve only seen in the zoo, and once in Tennessee when it darted across the road and we were lucky enough to catch sight of it.
And also, it seems, he’s afraid of large cats, alligators, and rhinos. In the dark, in our home, at night. How do I teach him to fight against the scary things in his mind?
I choose humor.
I can’t believe you’re scared of bears, I tell him, when there are so many other real things in this house to be scared of.
Like what? he wants to know, but apprehensive. I’m about to add to his list of fears.
Like books! Do you know how many sharp paper edges are in all these books? Just think of all the paper cuts we could get just by reading!
And scissors. I can think of at least two pair in the house right now. Scissors cut you! Do you know how much that scares me?
What about Legos? Those really hurt when you step on them. Sometimes I can’t even sleep thinking about all the Legos that blend into our rug.
And just look at that dresser full of drawers! You can slam your fingers in those drawers so easily. I am so scared of dresser drawers.
And we haven’t even talked about all the balls in this house, just waiting to bounce up and hit you in the head. Our house is a danger zone!
He’s laughing now. And maybe the laughter’s enough to chase the bears away tonight.