Childhood fear

Childhood fear is a terrible thing if you are the child!

Several things came together on our recent trip to Scotland where we visited the Falkirk Wheel – a big ‘lift’ for canal barges taking them far into the air to go from one canal level to another (saving a day of going through many locks).

I thought back to a time when my son wanted to jump out of the aeroplane as he could do nothing to quieten the cries of his daughter, my grand-daughter.  Some time later in a moment of quiet I asked Emma (aged 2 and three quarters) what’d been the matter. She disclosed that she’d been frightened – of falling through the window …

This comment took me back to being small and my mother taking me to the park in Nelson, Lancashire.  There was a pretty Victorian metal bridge over the trickle of Pendle Water.  The many slats of the bridge had gaps.  It didn’t matter how slight the trickle was. I was convinced I would fall through the gap in the wooden slats of the bridge and perish.  I remember the fear!!

We joined the queue on the Falkirk wheel to get on our booked barge.  Behind us was a small boy to be three the following month.  He was letting out a more or less constant agitated wail.  There was no acknowledgement from mother who kept telling him off – ‘but you LIKE boats; you have been on them LOTS of times!’  Father was rather more acknowledging and bent down to the little chap trying to soothe him.

I butted in to father as kindly as I could. ‘Ask him if he is frightened’.  It was a ‘frightened’ noise he had been making!  The little boy nodded.  I crouched and butted in:

‘Mummy and Daddy love you.  That goes on for ever and ever and NOTHING can ever alter that!  They will watch over you – I PROMISE’.  He gave a watery smile.

They stayed on the boat and HE DID IT!  Going op and down the great height with hardly a peep …

It reminded me of child development – how we set off as pure feeling. Only later, post 10 years the logical side of our mind coming in. I was also reminded of a counselling truism, ‘acknowledgement is often enough.

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