Kid World & Adult World

I’ve posted a fair amount today, nothing too spectacular or interesting, really, just random thoughts that have been in my head over the past week. I think I’m still in NYWM mode, and feeling like I need to post something for every day of the week. Not a bad thing, really, I’m just less than convinced of the quality of the stuff I’ve been posting lately. Oh well. Its not stopping me posting.
There is something that I’ve been thinking about quite a bit over the last week or so, which has turned my whole view on life upside down. Its to do with courage.
When I was a kid, there were a lot of things that I was scared of. Big dogs. Barking dogs. Horror movies. Snakes. Rats. Shadows in my bedroom when I switched off the lights. Windows out on to the darkness. Strange noises in the house. Unexpected power cuts late at night. Asking for directions from strangers. The crocodile that lived under my bed and would eat my legs if I let them get to close. The giant spider that lived down the hall and would chase me if I went to the toilet late at night. The big window in my room, which I thought people might shoot me through, so I would often crawl to my bed to avoid being seen by would-be assassins.
Some of these fears followed me into adult life. I still freak out over spiders, snakes, darkness, power cuts, strange noises, horror movies… you get the idea. Its not something I ever expected. Watching my Dad and other adults go through life, watching them face my fears bravely and either get rid of the scary thing, or get me away from the scary thing, I assumed I would one day be able to face these scary things just as bravely as the adults around me. But, truth be told, I’m still a pretty freaked out and paranoid adult.
What I’ve discovered since working with kids, is that as the adult, you often have to appear brave when you’re totally freaked out on the inside. You have to lie and reassure and tell them everything’s going to be fine, and act like you’re fine, because if you don’t everything will get out of control.
Late night power cuts were the first thing I had to face as the ‘adult’. I was babysitting, and the power went out in the house several times in a row, which terrified my eldest girl. I was also petrified, as power-cuts always remind me of an ‘America’s Most Wanted’ episode I watched as an 8 year old, where the murderer deliberately cut the power to get the victim out of the house and to where she could be murdered. It was worse out here, of course, as we are in the middle of the country, there are no street lights, no lights from surrounding houses. Its pitch black. I had to find a candle and light it by the light of the moon with shaking hands. But, my eldest charge was panicking enough for the both of us, so I had to be light-hearted and nonchalant. It was just a power-cut. There was nothing significant in it. We just had to turn the power back on. With each successive power-cut she got more panicky, asking ‘why is this happening?’ over and over requiring me to get more light-hearted. By the last time I was practically whistling and skipping to the power-box in an attempt to cheer us both up. ‘Oh what fun, another trip to the power-box, how I do love the power-box, I’m not scared, why would I be scared, dum-de-dum-de-dum…’
Big, barking dogs are another problem. I really don’t like big, barking dogs. I think they’re going to take chunks out of my legs. I don’t even like little barking dogs. I think they’ll take littler chunks out of my legs. There are many barking dogs on our bicycle route, which terrify both my girls. The littlest has a habit of dropping everything she is carrying onto the ground, covering her ears and just running, as fast as she can in the opposite direction of the dog, not really looking where she is going, or what she might run into. This would normally be my reaction to a barking dog, but, again, I have to be the sensible one. I’ve told the girls that the reason the dogs are barking at us is because they’re scared of us. I bark along with the dogs, ‘I’m so scared. I’m so scared. Go away, you’re scaring me.’ So, now, whenever we meet barking dogs, my eldest charge says, ‘Oh, he’s really scared, isn’t he? Why’s he so scared of us?’ She still seems pretty freaked out, but at least she doesn’t scream and cry anymore. After many trips past these dogs (and no legs, or parts of legs being taken off), I have now gotten up enough courage to yell back at the dogs and to tell them to go home. It even seems to work. I’m so amazed at myself.
But, yesterday was the biggest achievement. I hate spiders. I really, truly hate spiders. I can’t think of anything I find more unnerving than a big, hairy spider. Usually, in my panic and passionate desire to get rid of said spider, I will kill it several times over, first with drowning it in insect spray, then, flattening it with a fat book, and then sucking it up in the vacuum cleaner. Yesterday, the eldest girl freaked out because of a small spider sitting near her whilst she was watching TV. Again, in a desire not to add to her panic, I played it cool. I got a big piece of paper and attempted to scoop up the spider. It ran onto the floor. My eldest girl asked if she should squash it. I surprised myself by saying there was no need. I picked it up again, carried it outside as quick as I could (it was climbing rather quickly towards the hand holding the paper) and let it go free. I was very proud of myself, particularly because I was utterly terrified the thing was going to crawl onto my hand, and I would scream, flick my hand out and send the spider flying across the room and ruin my image as the cool, calm and in-control adult.
There was an interesting interview with the Irish actor Brendan Gleeson on the TV this evening, in which he said that people who had children had a responsibility to be optimistic about the world. You had no right to bring a child into the world and into the future no less, and then lose faith in the world. You need to be able to remain optimistic and passionate about the world, and have the confidence and determination to change the things you don’t like about it. I think it was the same feeling as I’ve been having with the things that scare me. Most of the things that scare me I know are ridiculous, but I let myself get worried about them, because there’s no real reason to stop myself from panicking. Having panicky little kids around suddenly gives me a reason to be calm and collected and reassuring to both me and them.
I’m also intrigued by the effect of having kids around on the food you eat and what you drink. Kids so often follow what you do and not what you say. They notice when you don’t take the advice you give to them. They want to know why you’re not having dinner when they are. They eat more, and better, if you’re eating with them. They want to know why you get to drink diet drinks when they’re bad for you and you won’t let them drink them. I think, in some ways, having kids around would be an incentive to eat healthily and look after yourself better, because if you want them to eat well, you need to do it yourself.
Anyway, that’s that. Again, not very amusing, but, I suppose you can’t be funny all the time.

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