Monday, September 29, 2008

The fear factor



Yes. That's the back of my son. Riding on his scooter. On the BMX bike track. Unsupported by parent. Aged 2. And a few days.

He was, in fact standing still but only for a moment... just after I took this he shot off and I had to do the flappy Mummy dance to catch up. I held on to his handlebars and supported his back and together we raced down the slope and over a few of the bumps. He loved it.

It was a big mistake.

The problem, or perhaps one of the chief joys of being two, is that (for the lucky majority) one hasn't experienced any major setbacks in life and those that one has had, one has generally forgotten about. This means that the average two-year-old has only irrational fears to deal with (such as what-ever it is that lurks at one end of the spud's bed some nights) where-as the very real dangers in life, such as moving vehicles, steep staircases and taking on gravel-laden BMX bike tracks on one's micro-scooter (without a helmet) don't tend to trip the 'fear' switch in most toddlers and unless restrained they will happily race into danger.

Fear, or, perhaps, caution, is something that one clearly has to learn from one's parents. In fact, given that I now have a hyper-real sense of fear about things which here-to-fore I have rather taken as read (such as taking heavy things off shelves, the height of the sofa and watching 12-year-old boys rocket around on their bikes) while the spud is the Eval Kneival of toddlersville, I would like to put forward my new fear-hypothesis. This hypothesis states that at the moment a baby is born, its parents also give birth to its fear. This fear is then transmitted little by little to the child. Unfortunately, parents never seem to lose all of this extra fear and have to carry on for the rest of their lives with a super-inflated dose of caution - something that would probably have done them a lot of good in their twenties during those lost years spent... well enough about me.

It's a difficult balancing act to manage - imbuing one's offspring with enough caution that they don't think that racing their scooter on the BMX track is a good idea, without terrifying them so much that they refuse to go outside ever again, and, twenty years later, have to be cut out of their bedrooms when they get too big to fit through the door.

In the meantime, we now have to avoid the bike track during busy periods or our little spudling can be found hauling his scooter onto the starting grid with a very determined set to his jaw before setting off down the slope in the path of actual bikes hurtling around it at speed.

Or he would do if we would let him.


11 comments:

Michelle said...

He is so coordinated and athletic for his age. Maybe he'll make you rich playing professional sports!

Sparx said...

Michelle - wouldn't that be great! He can join Chase as a pro player and we can lie back and relax in our old age!

DJ Kirkby said...

'The flappy Mommy dance'...lol! Love it, strangely enough I do that dance too...

Sparx said...

DJ - it's the only exercise I get these days!

Hoto said...

Sis: Don't worry! (I know, I know: "Hello, Pot. This is kettle. Are you still black?") I had so much congenital fear that it took Johnny almost decade to erase much of it. Now I can step on a stage in front of thousands of people, waterski behind a speeding boat, hurl myself and a bicycle off a mountain, and even walk down 5th avenue in NY at lunch time in a business suit carrying a large pink Victoria Secret bag full of lingerie for wifey.

No matter how much fear he may leech from you, there'll be someone around to help him dilute it.

Proceed!.

-Ann said...

I have an irrational fear of mushrooms and I wonder sometimes if I would transmit that fear to my kids if/when I have any.

Sometimes I wish I could go back to those fearless days. Wisdom keeps you alive, but sometimes it's no fun.

Nathalie (Spacedlaw) said...

He has to make his own experiences too. But might well send his parents to the hospital for heart attacks on the way...
I wanted to wave hello (am a black box traveller).

Sparx said...

Hoto - good point! I'd be quite happy if he turned out like his Uncle H...

-ann: only if you want to transmit the fear, I guess! I have an irrational fear of dolls... lucky I have a boy I guess... thanks for leaving a comment!

Nathalie - lord, I hope not! I expect so though - thanks for leaving a comment!

Jen said...

Hey! Finally we get to see what you look like! You're pretty.

I have a new blog design, so stop by if you get a chance and check it out.

Tara@From Dawn Till Rusk said...

That is so true! My three-year-old daughter is part child, part mountain goat and attempts to climb everything.
Whenever we go to a play area where the different ages are sectioned off she snorts with derision when I guide her towards the age 3-5 section.
Which is fine if it's soft play, but adventure playgrounds where there is wood and hard ground, well, mummy is a nervous wreck!

Sparx said...

Jen - ulp! OK, might have to go anon again. Thanks!

Tara - spud is exactly the same... don't know how we cope...

btw, I replied to both these comments ages ago but it just doesn't seem to have saved!