Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Fear: "But it's make believe." It's still fear.

It was obvious when Goose was very young that she had inherited my sensitive spirit.  When other children were watching shows that anyone in our culture would view as 'normal', Goose would not.  She was, and still is, very keen to turn her back on anything that is scary or ill-humored.  My problem with this realization is that I am not as sensitive to things as I used to be.  It's called being 'desensitized'. 

I remember discussing this with WJ and realizing that we did not want her to lose this sensitivity.  We wanted to nurture it.  We decided early on to let our children judge, or discern, for themselves what good and evil looked like; using these moments through the years as teachable opportunities. 
That said...we did not set out and openly discredit the subject of Halloween.  With Goose, we did not have to.  She came to us fearful of the decorations she saw in stores or yards.  So WJ and I did what is common in our household, we studied the history and origins of Halloween.  While attempting to explain this to a 5 year old, we shared our own opinions about the holiday and its evolution to what it is today.  The journey of the 'Jack-o-lantern' as well is a pretty interesting story as well. 

Then we talked about the many reasons, or lack thereof, that people choose to celebrate Halloween.  We told her that for some families, especially those with young children, it is just a fun day to dress up and get candy from neighbors.   Of course, Goose' reply to this was, "I can dress up every day and get candy from Grammy's anytime I want."  You'd have to know her to appreciate a reply like this.  We also explained that some people know Halloween is scary and enjoy scaring others.  Frown.  The conversation ended with a lesson about choices.  While we hope to never judge others, we encouraged her to stand firm in her beliefs.  What she decides for herself, out of the influences of family and community, becomes her belief system; and she should be courageous enough to stand by it. 

The last few days Goose has been confronted with questions about Halloween, more so than any year before that I can recall.  As recent conversation unfolded with her neighborhood friends, I was amazed at her courage to explain why she does not like the holiday.  Even when faced with their confusion to why she didn't dress up that night, Goose stilled herself with the a stunning reply, "I like dressing up, but not on Halloween."  She went on to tell them that she didn't like anything scary.  I did not chime in until the end of the conversation when I explained that it's ok for them to dress up if their parents approved and they are not scared or in danger; but because Goose doesn't like some things she sees during this time of year, she chooses not to participate.  Of course, for elementary kids, I'm sure we sounded weirder than the Addams family in today's culture (pun fully intended).  But I was one proud mama.

That was yesterday.  Today, it was the grocery clerks.  First of all, the store was decorated with hangings a little darker and more disturbing than I thought fitting for the produce section.  I mean, spiders and jack-o-lanterns are one thing, zombie heads on tombstones are a whole other deal!  So, we finally make it to the counter for checkout... this is the dialogue: 

Goose:  Hi! What's your name?
Cashier:  Hello, my name is ...!  Are you excited about Halloween?
Goose:  No ma'am.  I don't do Halloween. 
Cashier:  What?  You don't like getting candy and dressing up?
Goose:  No (long and drawn out)...I don't like being scared.
Cashier:  But honey, it's only costumes and make believe.  You don't have to be scared. 

Goose looks at me with the usual confused, sad eyes.  Even as the lady bagging our goods continues talking about her 7 year old granddaughter who is in 'into' zombies... Really?  I then gently explain to both women that anything that brings fear, whether make believe or not, is indeed real for the one who is scared.  Of course, the cash clerk changes tune and seems to see the decor in the store with new eyes.  She replies, "You know, those (decorations) are a bit much for little eyes, I suppose."  I smile sadly, thinking to myself:  Yeah.  Online shopping is looking better and better these days.
"Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it."
Proverbs 22:6

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