Fear paralyzes; curiosity empowers. Be more interested than afraid.- —Patricia Alexander, American educational psychologist
Ray is on vacation, and his anxiety levels are off the charts. He was a dream on the car ride. A few Tourette’s spits at the end of a long day driving, but overall, pleasant and relaxed and funny. Who he could be. Who I know him to be. Who he wants to be.
And as soon as he got here and he knew that Adventure Camp
was going to begin, he started fretting. “Where is it, Mommy?… What are we going to do, Mommy? … I don’t want to go, Mommy…. I don’t feel good, Mommy… My throat hurts, Mommy… I can’t breathe, Mommy…” At one point, I was afraid that he really would go into an asthma attack from anxiety driving him.
And the Tourette’s tics are awful- violent jerks of his head, grotesque contractions of his mouth and neck. The spitting, ironically, has decreased, but the severity of his contractions are just awful to watch; I worry about headaches and neck injury.
I’ve snuggled him. I’ve encouraged him. I’ve told him he’s fine. I’ve told him that his anxiety is what is doing this and that he does want to go, but his anxiety (darn anxiety) is blocking him. He can outwait it. He can defeat it.
And he has. My mother dropped him off at the camp today, because I knew that I would crumble and let him stay home with me- where he really wanted to stay and where I can’t have him stay- I have too much to do… but I would have crumbled. So Mamamum did it for me. His eyes were huge, his breathing was shallow, he was on the verge of a panic attack. And sweet boy- he went. He couldn’t even talk from fear, but he went. That’s courage. That’s strength. When fear is closing your throat closed, and you go anyways.
And today, he got on a horse for the first time. He rode the horse up and down mountains- mountains that he is anxious of because of the up and down heights
. His was the only trail horse (plodding creatures that they are) that was tied to the guide’s. But he saddled up and he went. And he went because he wanted to be a cowboy.
He’s curious these days about his cowboy roots. My daddy was a cowboy at times and my grandfather ran cattle. There are Western roots in my family- roots that look very exotic to my East Coast-bred son. He’s begging for cowboy boots of his own. He bought a cowboy hat for his sun hat for the camp. And last night at the playground, he practiced riding the “bucking bronco”…
of a duck. Hey- it worked. He got up on the horse today and curiosity won the day.
That’s my cowboy… Fighting off dragons with the help of his white steed, um, duck.