My daughters are afraid of the second floor in our house.
They are both old enough to go up the stairs by themselves. They carry toys up and down, they play together, and they harass my wife as she gets ready work, yet, when one of them are asked to go up there on their own, they will hesitate. They will plead…
“I CAN’T go upstairs by myself.”
My wife and I are amused.
Growing Up Scared
I remember at their age that I would be scared if I had to go upstairs or into the basement by myself.
After watching the movie Aliens for the first time, I fully expected one the aliens to attack me when I went downstairs into the basement. My goal then was to get what I needed, and run as fast I could back up the stairs. I would never look back to see what was behind me.
My brother and I shared a bedroom on the second floor of my childhood home. We had bunk beds. I remember being unable to watch Stephen King’s Silver Bullet. My brother and father stayed up to watch it, but I cowered under the covers in my top bunk. I could still hear the television and the screams from the movie downstairs. I was petrified to move.
These are the little things that kids worry about.
The Scariest Place in the World
This is why my children amuse me.
We don’t watch any scary movies at home. However, they still have this fear of going upstairs by themselves. Even in broad daylight!
My oldest daughter and I frequently drive by a deserted barn alongside a road we drive. It is is old, run down, and dangerous looking. Recently, my daughter asked if we would be able to go into the barn.
DAUGHTER #1: “Because there might be ghosts in it.”
For fun, I decided to play along.
ME: “Yes, the barn could be haunted…aren’t you scared?”
DAUGHTER #1: “No.“ (flat tone)
ME: “ You can’t even go up the stairs in our own house.”
She started giggling, so I pressed on.
ME: “You mean to tell me that you are MORE afraid of going upstairs in our own house, than going into a scary barn that has a sign on it that says ‘NO TRESPASSING?'”
DAUGHTER #1: “Yes.”
ME: “Which is more scary…The barn or the upstairs?”
DAUGHTER#1: “I would go into the barn.”
We both laughed, and I told her that I would double check with her younger sister. Her sister is three, and I believed she would provide a more logical answer – scary barn or upstairs in the house? Obviously, she would reply the scary barn, and she had also seen this barn multiple times. I would even add the word “spooky” to lead her there.
ME: “Which is more scary…the “spooky barn” or the upstairs?”
DAUGHTER #2: “The upstairs…”
Why are my two daughters afraid of something they know well that is right in front of them?
Moral of the Story
I live my life through metaphors.
When I began brainstorming this week’s blog, I wanted to write about how adults tend to be more afraid and stressed about things we cannot control – the weather, the economy, Donald Trump, Kim Kardashian selfies, etc.
We ignore the little things we can control that are right in front of us, because they get lost in the dramas of society.
Children are more afraid of little things that are right in front of them, like the upstairs. As adults, we dismiss these little things, but maybe our children know more than we do.
Because the real problem is that we are little scared too.
I have written about “patterns of failure” and “accountability“.
Failure patterns are traps that you fall into if you are not confident your control of the little things. Accountability is taking responsibility for these little things and not avoiding them.
You can do this, and you must.
I am writing this week’s blog from hospital bed, because I didn’t ignore the little thing that was right in front of me. I am ready to face it, whatever it is.
I am not afraid.
On second thought, those stairs are kind of scary…
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