This morning, as we walked by PS 234, a couple blocks from our apartment, Declan said to me, “When I was little, I was scared of this frog,” and then proceeded to straddle it like a broken horse.
This is among the things that amaze me about childhood, both how present fear is, in random little things, and how unashamed kids are in expressing their fear, at least in the early years. I have a vague recollection of being afraid of Dr. Seuss books, and Where the Wild Things Are. Declan and Grey tell us all the time about what scares them, and it’s almost like a physiological description, like an itch or a chill. Are you cold? Yes, a little. Are you afraid of dogs? Yes, even small ones.
It’s a reminder that the shame we all feel around our fears is socially inflicted, and there is a time before it arrives. But fear is still fear, with or without shame, and it’s clear in Declan’s straddle that he is enjoying the distinctive big boy satisfaction of watching it recede.