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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