Scene: Birthday party, ice cream cake being eaten, six people around the table- Ray-the birthday boy, Mother, Father, Older Sister, friend #1 and Vicki- family friend and pseudo-aunt.
Vicki: So, Ray, what is your goal now that you’re 8? What do you want to achieve this year?
Ray: I want to be able to ride a ride at a park and not be scared.
… Poor Ray- he’s had a tough few weeks of fear. Part of his anxiety issues is being afraid of heights, so he made it 10 steps up the lighthouse that is next to our neighborhood pool before his shaking drove him back down. We went to the local water park a few weeks ago and he couldn’t go past the first landing for the water ride. He wanted to, so much, but his anxiety sent him back down to earth.
The sad thing is that he’s gone up them before- but only with his dad, who also shares his fear of heights, but conquers them so that his son can have the experience. These past few times were with friends, with me, with his sister, who can scamper up anything with no fear. I try to tell him that he’s being cautious, not scared and that caution is a wise thing. That he can do it. That, whatever his choice is- to go on or to go back- I completely understand.
Only he and I both know that I don’t truly understand. That I kind of like the feeling of being tall. That I like looking out and over. That I like the feeling of flying.
But he and James- together, hand-in-hand, they can feel each other’s pulses race. They know that the each one is depending on the other one to encourage each other. That there is company in facing your fears.
Ray understands the power of support. When I was researching summer camps, I found one that specializes in Tourette’s Syndrome. “Oh, Mommy…” he breathed. “I want to go there!”
“Why?” I asked.
“Because I can be with kids who are like me- who are working with it just like me,” he answered.
We can’t afford it this year with such little advance warning, but next year… next year, Ray will be there. And this summer- this summer, you’ll find James on the water slide and the lighthouse with Ray.
Where they can both climb a little higher with help from each other.