It’s nineteen-ninety something and my sister and I are between 5 and 10 years old. We’re in France with our mum and dad, in the days before the euro. We’re walking down a busy French high street in Calais. It’s probably the size of Oxford Street. My mum is the official “bag wearer”. “The Bag” is this important bag that contained everything from francs (remember those?) to passports, our boarding tickets for the ferry, and our sweets. It. Had. EVERYTHING. in it.
Whilst waking down said high street; my mum, who at this point was (and still is) my absolute hero (I was a mummy’s girl, my sister; a daddy’s girl), starts screaming. The bag, which was this gastly white bag with gigantic flowers on it, had attracted an almighty butterfly. A butterfly that would have given batman a run for his money.
Upon seeing said butterfly, my mum decided it would be appropriate to not only start screaming in said foreign country, but then throw “The Bag” across said high street, landing across the road, and then run in the opposite direction – leaving her young daughters to fend for themselves whilst their father went to get the bag from across the road, trying to bypass two lanes of traffic.
It was ok in the end. We survived. We made it home. But from that day onward, both my sister and I have been terrified of butterflies. It may sound like an odd fear, but the fear itself isn’t. After all, we had just witnessed our mum being fearful of something, so it was quite right to react the same way.
Which brings me to other day.
Sharon and I were in the garden and the cats brought us a frog to play with. I hate frogs immensely (again something instilled from my mum). So much so that I’ve sometimes been known to freeze instantly before crying. Like every other time, there was panic in my head, but this time I froze and just smiled. I encouraged T to go look as I slowly backed away.
In those few seconds before Sharon dealt with the frog history could have been repeated from when I was young. T would have seen his mum at a moment of weakness and probably remembered that, and possibly gained his own fear of frogs.
I don’t want that (even though they’re disgusting creatures).
He’s not old enough to understand that it was just a frog and that it’s completely harmless. All he would have seen was his mum screaming in fear of something (trust me, I would have screamed). Is he now scared of frogs, hopefully not. But if he was to become fearful of frogs it would be my fault.
Just like any of my personal flaws I want to try hard not to instill them into T. My fears. My anxiety. If he is going to be scared of something I want him to be scared of something for his own reasons, not mine.