I’ve just realized that the ten-minute walk from the park to our house is one of the best times for me to get to know my son better and to learn from him.
It was already dark, some minutes after sunset, when my son and I went home from the village park yesterday. As usual, I was walking our dog while he would alternate between riding and walking his bike. A neighbor was slowly walking towards our direction, and as soon as she was alongside us, she looked at me and said hi. I said hi, too, and continued walking.
My son turned to me and said, “Mom, she scared me. It’s scary that she is following us.” I explained to him that I knew her, that she was a friendly neighbor who lived just two houses away from us and that would explain why she could be walking our way or nearby.
My son continued to tell me again how he’s afraid of the dark, of big houses and of scary stories. He said that sometimes his friends in the park like to tell scary stories, and although he doesn’t want to listen, he also doesn’t want to show his friends that he’s afraid. (Oh, how such moments break my heart.) He said that even though he tells his friends that he doesn’t like such stories, they continue telling them anyway. I suggested to him that if they keep it up, he should just walk away and find something else to do until his friends stop.
I asked him why he was afraid of the dark. He replied that he imagines all sorts of scary things in it. I said that one of the downsides of having a big and wonderful imagination is that you sometimes imagine bad things, scary things. I said, “When you start to imagine something scary, try to catch yourself and change what you imagine. When you start to think of something that scares you, think of something funny instead. Or think of something you love. When you see a dark and empty space, imagine Minecraft blocks in it, and form them into something cool.”
Finally, we reached the gate of our house, safe and sound. We removed our shoes, washed our hands, got cold drinks of water, and settled down.
And I am reminded of how an innocent and imaginative mind deals with dark places and playground peer pressure. And I should be ready to listen and to guide him in dealing with his fears.