Why didn’t you do it, mum?
Because I was afraid I said looking straight across the table to B3, who was passionately eating some chicken nuggets. If only he ate all my dinners like that I thought.
‘Mummy was always being asked to be captain of her sports team, dance team; I was always being told by employers I should trust myself my more I never did not really. My personal life I don’t hold fear, but I was professionally fearful. The idea that everyone is looking at me makes me want to vomit. I am frightened of making a fool of myself and failing. ‘ I said to him wondering if telling them this was a good idea.
B2 looked at me his blue eyes popping with a smile.
‘I am not afraid’ he said.
‘I know you’re not’ I said, ‘but I know when you are.’
He smiled again his gappy front teeth telling me everything, ‘but I will try anyway’ he said.
I looked at B1 eating silently then back to B3 who continued his merry way downing every nugget in front of him like it was his last meal.
I was just about to sigh with relief that the fear factor I have hadn’t been passed on to them when from the far corner of the table came B1 ‘That’s how I am mum. I am frightened of everything all the time’.
Now despite knowing B1 has his quirks and social challenges I have never thought him a fearful boy he seemed so brave as he trundled through life in his own world. So while I wasn’t surprised to hear it. How he feels is normally kept to himself despite how often you ask.
I wanted to reach across the table, but that would include an awkward reach amongst the sauce bottles. Stupid now because my kid is worth the sauce stains on a house dress. Instead, I slid up the pew to sit across from him.
‘Are you I’ asked again.
‘Yes’, he said ‘All the time’.
And so a hot lump raised in my throat, and my eyes watered as I looked at him going silent again.
‘Well, I said to him trying to shake the lump being scared a little is okay its what makes us careful and makes us make good decisions. And yours B1 are the best but if we are frightened all the time it will stop us from being the best we can be.
‘What are you scared of now’ they asked me in unison.
Just stuff I said looking at them all assuming they are all three years old again and that the conversation was over.
‘You’re scared of my spider’ asked B3 picking up his fake plastic tarantula.
‘No’ I said smiling at him.
‘Naw’ was his response with such disappointment.
‘No for me its work stuff’ I said grabbing the BBQ sauce.
‘So it’s the same stuff’ B1 said quietly across from me chewing open-mouthed on a chip.
Yessssss I replied as the penny dropped surprising myself and realising that B1 had linked a & b together. Something uncommon for him.
‘Well’, he said preparing to lick the plate clean before eyeing me and thinking better of it.
‘I won’t be scared if you won’t’ he said.
‘Okay’, I said it’s a deal.
Now let me tell you there is nothing like making a deal with nine-year-old who gets it as much as you if not more to get your crap together.
So here is a couple of steps to deal with fear no matter what it is because in the three months since this conversation him and I have made massive progress.
1. Work out what exactly you are frightened of. I’m scared of needles and making a fool of myself- professionally. My personal life it’s on donkey kong but professionally its a different story. It’s a confidence issue but lets not even get started on that I have worn a hole in the couch already.
2. Think positively Hence my optimism. I can’t see any other way to think. It’s a trick of the brain otherwise some days I may never get out of bed nor write. Thinking positively keeps the fear at bay.
3. Consider all outcomes seriously. All potentially worst case scenarios. This is a favourite method of mine when step five aint working for me. Are they that bad that you shouldn’t do it? Nobody will die if I get rejected by Mindfood magazine when I send them that pitch. The worst case scenario that could happen is that my husband finally loses it because I have aired all our laundry to help others but so far he is still here.
4. Set goals to get over the fear. Steps to get to the prize so to speak. It may or may not be a step by step guide to putting my feet on the floor in the morning.
5. Just jump in the deep end. B1 and my own current and favourite method. Thus far, it’s working and wouldn’t you know it. I am still waking up in the morning. Mindfood hasn’t responded, nobody died, and my husband is still talking to me.