“Mommy, why is fear Elsa’s enemy? What’s she scared of?”
Pretty loaded question for a bleary-eyed Sunday morning, before the first coffee of the day, watching Frozen for the umpteenth time. I can recite the movie. Every word. Every song. It has infiltrated my brain. Every time someone says “Woo-hoo” or anything close to it, the words “big summer blow out” slice through my mind. Olaf the snowman shows up in my dreams. We don’t watch much TV in my house, but when we do, there’s a fair chance it’ll involve at least a portion of our favourite flick.
So – back to the question. Why is fear Elsa’s enemy? To be honest, with the better part of a decade of parenting experience, both personal and professional under my belt, I was shocked at how ill-prepared I was to quickly and simply answer that question in terms my kids could grasp. Everything I know about teaching kids to manage their fears sailed through my head and I whittled together what I could.
Here’s what I came up with by the seat of my pants:
“If you let your fears control you, they will. They always will. Even when you’re a grown-up. You’ll be afraid to try new things, to meet new people, to fail and to be wrong. You’ll miss out on fun things. You will be afraid sometimes honey, but all the love and support you have in your life will help you through it. Believe in yourself. I believe in you.”
Quiet filled the room and I felt like my heart was gonna pound clear out of my chest. As teachable moments go, this was a biggie. Many adults have trouble managing their fears (myself included from time to time) and here this huge topic was – right out there – sitting on the couch between us.
And then, like a lightning bolt, my daughter shattered the silence with a statement I won’t soon forget:
“Ummmm, ok Mommy – I just wanted to know what she’s scared of. Like…what’s her problem? Like – she’s scared to hurt people with her powers, right? That’s all I wanna know.”
Again – back to the real question (but this time, from my daughter’s perspective). What’s she scared of? My sheepish reply, “Yes honey – hurting people with her powers; that’s what Elsa’s afraid of.”
A near-decade of parenting expertise and I crashed and burned in a blaze of glory! Note to self…next time clarify the question before you craft a profound reply.
Where is that well-deserved coffee anyway?
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About this blogger:
Paula D’Orazio RN is a public health nurse with the Early Years Health Program at the Halton Region Health Department. Wanna know more about her? Read her blogs! She’ll tell ya! (She kinda likes to talk.)