Tuesday 12 September 2017

what my 10 year old taught me about kicking fear to the curb

It was a bright and sunny Sunday morning. With a quick pat of the dogs, the kids piled out the front door and into the car, excited about the prospect of an adventurous morning at the local show.

We eventually found a car park, popped hats onto heads, and walked through the front gates.

We follow the same path each year, wandering through the craft, baking and art exhibitions first, stopping to marvel at the woodcutters, then meander towards the steam engine displays while licking ice creams.

As the morning wears on, we wander through sideshow alley, around the corner to the dodgem cars, and the Ferris Wheel.

I love the Ferris Wheel.

Tucked into a quiet corner with a shady shed standing guard over the line, the Ferris Wheel beckons for all who look at her high flying baskets, tempting them with promises of distant mountains to spy on.

Every year, as I stand in line for my ticket, I ask who is coming with me.

Steve waits with the kids.

Chloe has been up with me.

Douglas has been up with me.

This year, Natalie decided it was her turn.

"How high does it go?" she asks with a nervous giggle

"Do they ever fall down?" her nerves are starting to show.

"How do I get off?" she finally asks.

As we wait in line to hop on the ride, her anxiety is more noticeable.

Like a good big brother, Douglas tells her that the basket stops at the top.

"What if it falls?" she asks again.

"Not that it isn't possible," I said, "but have you ever heard of this one falling down?"

The ride stops, and the guy beckons for us to climb aboard.

The carriage rocks a little, leaving us all unsteady as we sit down.

I pull out my camera once we're seated, like any good scrapbooker would.

I can see the fear on her face, she's squeezing my hand so tightly... but it wasn't until we started moving that I realised we were facing the wrong way.

Snap, snap, snap, goes the camera, and slowly her grip loosens on mine.

"Look, there's dad," I tell her. She slowly leans forward as we pass over his head, and waves madly.

We settle in for the ride, round and round and round we go.

As the ride finishes she runs off to find dad.

"That was so cool," says Douglas

"Can we go again?" asks Natalie.

"Time to find the show bags" says dad, and off we wander.

It wasn't until we were heading to the car that I heard Natalie's excitement.

"I was so scared," she said to Riley, "but it was so cool being up there!"

"Will you go on it again?" he asks her

"I wanna go back and do it right now!" she replies to him.

The buzzing and giggling carried on all the way home, where it occurred to me that my 10 year old daughter had done something I struggled to do myself - she'd overcome her fear of something, and done it, with great results.

How did she manage it?

1 - she didn't overthink the task. Sure, she worried a little bit about what might happen, but when the guy called us forward to climb in the cage, she climbed straight on in.

2 - she accepted that it felt weird at first. Climbing into that slightly wobbly cage can be off putting. But she grabbed my hand to steady herself, and looked all around to get her bearings.

3 - she understood what the task involved. She knew that the task involved getting in the cage, and going around in circles until it stopped. There was no opportunity to change the path of the Ferris Wheel.

4 - she gave herself space to feel. I didn't really come to understand this one until much later, but by allowing herself the space to talk, she was able to deal with the anxiety that had sprung up for her as we waited.

5 - she celebrated her win. By talking about the fun she had, and making plans to do it again next year, Natalie celebrated her successful adventure on the Ferris Wheel.

Even a month later, I still carry these lessons with me as a reminder that if she can do it, I can, too.

linking with Kylie Purtell for IBOT


  1. Good on you Natalie. Many adults will not let go of the fear and as you get older it gets harder to let it go. What an awesome effort.

  2. Not overthinking is a great skill. Can someone download it into my brain for me? :)

  3. Love this. Thank you for sharing. Something for me to remember too. :)

  4. Good girl, feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

  5. What a great kid. Sounds like she assessed it, and did it without too much time for fear to take over.

  6. Super lesson, and I like the way you have broken it down into sections. Great learning for us all.

  7. Love this story Cate and I think we can all learn a little something about letting go from your 10-year-old #teamIBOT

  8. Well done Natalie! A real life example of that saying 'feel the fear and do it anyway'!


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