(I used Face instead of another four-letter F word)
You’ve never been a scared kid. You’re so anti-fear that when you actually tell The Dad and I that you’re scared, we scoff at you, and admonish your feelings. We just assume you’re bullshitting us as a default. Rock solid parenting right there.
But you’ve always just been full-throttle, wide open on the highway of life.
And maybe fear comes with age and exposure. You simply might not be scared because you don’t know what to be scared of yet. That makes sense. Fear is commensurate with experience.
What's So Scary?
I think of the things in your decade of life that to outsiders could be scary.
- Getting eight stitches in your tiny cheek. You heard there would be Popsicles post.
- Riding the school bus. You only cared that your BFF would sit with you.
- Hearing that your Grandma G. had cancer. You simply wanted to know who would buy groceries when she was sick.
- Going to your great-uncle’s funeral. You said you wanted to sit between Grandpa and Grandma in the chapel and brought tissues to share.
- Saying goodbye to your dog. You only wanted to know how Daddy would handle it.
- Cliff diving. You actually had zero questions about this.
- Trying out for basketball. You just needed to know that we’d wait for you outside the gym.
Girlfriend. Looking at your history, where the perception of fear has emerged, you handled it with aplomb. In most of those scenarios above, your mother was in fact losing her own shit, fear bubbling beneath my surface, sure to come out at any moment, preventing you from experiencing any of those things.
Then again, I’m quite a bit older than you and I know what’s scary.
And I for sure will never, ever cliff dive.
Why am I Talking About Fear?
Because for the first time in my life, I can see the world embracing fear more than any other emotion out there. Humans are scared, and rightfully so. I won’t get too much into politics or racism, feminism, or any other hot button topics, because that’s not what I want you to remember. I want you to remember you have a choice.
I remember a few bad things that evoked fear in me as a kid, but nothing so overwhelming mundane or seemingly everyday like it happens in 2017.
When I was a kindergartner, the Challenger blew up.
I was a freshman in high school when the Oklahoma City bombings took place.
I just got my license when the Atlanta Olympics bombings happened.
There was Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan.
And then Eazy-E, Tupac, Notorious B.I.G., and Big Pun died.
Columbine happened when I was a freshman in college.
That shitty timeline played out across my entire childhood, while today it seems like your childhood is experiencing tragedy, despair, malice, and hate nearly everyday. The fear is there, alive and well across all of our lives. You’re aware of it because our house watches the news and discusses social awareness as an everyday part of life. Not to be afraid or fearful, but to be aware. This is not the time for ignorance; there is no bliss in that state of mind.
Parenting Through the Pain
It’s important for me to manage parenthood in this day and age as realistic and delicate as I can. I can’t protect you from the garbage, but I can expose you to it so you too can give it a name. You can recognize the obvious good from the bad, and choose yourself where to shine your light. Just as the newsreel fills with more anger and devastation, I fill your feed with stories of good and people in the literal streets post-storms scooping up puppies and grandmas and bringing the good to the darkest places. I live that way so you may, too. It’s not easy, choosing positive over negative every single day or shrugging off fear or complacency instead of embracing activism.
Fear, if you let it, will creep across everything holy and good. It will leave you empty and sad and a shell of the bright, beautiful girl you are now. It leaves a bitter aftertaste, and hardens you against all of life’s flowers, rainbows, and unicorns. It has a place in the world, of course, and will always present itself. Let it live there on the periphery, never giving it enough oxygen to breathe and grow. That is your choice.
And eventually you’ll find yourself amongst people who either invite or invoke fear on their own. Respect them, but choose wisely. Staying will increase the likelihood that you too will let fear be part of your life. I’m giving you license and permission to walk away, even if those people are close to you. It’s more fun and easier to coordinate outfits with the people who root for the same things you do, Kid Rock. Trust me on that.
Fear is a Liar and Fear is an Asshole
And you certainly don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.