Healthy Fear and Careful Responses

by Jasmine Carlson on September 17, 2009

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We have arrived home again. I can’t believe the difference it has made. Allow me to give a little background information.

My son has traveled for 8 of the 15 months of his life. We have just recently come back from a 3 week trip. My community travels very often, the trips anywhere from several days to several months in length. We are a performing arts team, a work crew and an extended family (which includes family +).

My son is constantly surrounded by close people that he knows and trusts. He is not a particularly social child. Even though he is chatting and usually fairly smiley, the smile and conversation are not an invitation to play!

Our most recent trip, the one we just returned to home base from, was to Kansas and then a couple of weeks in Sioux Falls SD for a music festival. My boy is very busy and kept me chasing him all day, every day, with the exception of nap time! Thank goodness for my community at these times as people are happy to give me short breaks when necessary; it sometimes saves my sanity. We had many people in and out of our camp during these couple of weeks, old and new friends. Of course who can resist the crazy smile, dirty hands and face, tousled blond hair and the hearty laugh of a toddler?

When my son is approached by someone he does not know he is shy and hides behind whoever is close to him that he knows well. If the subject is pushed he starts to cry. Sometimes hysterically. I was told many times this week by, I am sure, well-meaning people that he “needs to get over it” or “needs to get out more” (which is an amusing statement considering how we live). I, on the other hand, am not concerned. I am actually happy under our unique circumstances that my son does not go to complete strangers. I do not have to worry that he will be overly friendly or that I will have to warn him about people he does not know. On the other hand I do not want him to be afraid of people, especially friends, I have to calmly reassure him without pressuring him to “get to know” someone. To him it is instinctual to steer clear of people he does not know. It is a healthy fear.

Now, on the other hand I have no idea what happened in the self preservation section of my son’s brain because “healthy fear” did not seem to come installed there. While on this last trip we spent a good amount of time on concrete which those of us who have small children know is not an ideal situation for a toddler. There were also a pair of concrete stairs leading down to our camp, a completely fascinating item for my little guy. The most common response from my son to these falls? “Ops.” That’s it. Now in this area I have had to carefully contain myself. I have to measure my response to these events and wait on how my child is responding to the event before I do. If it is as “ops” situation I have to swallow my initial run and cuddle response and allow him to continue his play, lending him a reassuring smile. I have to put my own reactions and emotions to the situation aside and learn from my son how he needs me to respond.

Sometimes it is necessary for me to take action, then it is comfort and cuddle time and I am rewarded for the newly acquired stress-moment grey hairsĀ  by chubby little arms around my neck and his newest response, sopping wet baby lip kisses that he reserves, just for mom.

All in all I am happy to be off the concrete and we are both happy to be surrounded by those we know and love. We are happy to be home.

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Jasmine Carlson (49 Posts)

Jasmine is a community living mama with a passion for fierce writing and fitness. She her way on Team USA by fitness coaching. Shaping Her. (www.shapingher.com) Join the conversation at (www.facebook.com/ShapingHer)


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Carrie September 18, 2009 at 12:40 pm

That is so crazy that people say your child needs to get over it! It sounds like my husband, actually, who says things like that often about our son, but I’ve never had a stranger tell me that my son should be less attached or less shy. He is the same way, hiding behind me, and if someone goes too far, he fusses & reaches for me, but usually nobody has a problem simply giving him back!

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