“Adelyne, what is your greatest fear right now,” I asked my 11-year-old over a private Italian dinner we were eating, just the two of us, following the EEG she just had in Poznan, Poland.
“My biggest fear,” she repeated the question.
“Yes, with all that has been going on in your life, what is your current greatest fear,” I wanted to hear the heart of my daughter, and I had her alone, no little brothers or sisters to distract her. Just Ada and Momma. Together.
“The fear of being afraid,” she replied.
It makes tears come into my eyes right now.
If there is one thing we want to do as parents, it is to protect our children. To be their stalwarts. To be their walls. To be their protections. To be their everything.
And then you realize you can’t.
Unless you lock your child in a bubble, never letting them escape the house, you will quickly come to realize that you cannot be your child’s everything.
With the very act of living, they will experience many different joys and pains.
And sometimes, in that living, they experience very scary moments.
A little over a month ago, my daughter experienced at school what she describes as a heart attack. She then spent the next three days in a foreign hospital, hooked up to heart monitors and enduring multiple blood draws and tests to see what is going on with her body.
Then, not even 3 weeks after that, she experienced what is described as seizure-like behaviors before slipping in and out of semi-consciousness. Once again, at school.
This daughter of mine. It’s not that she is completely fearless—but, out of EVERYONE I know in the world, she is the bravest kid that I know. She has traveled the world. She has surfed. She has crossed borders. She has been surrounded by machine guns on territory where we literally have NO voice. And she hasn’t even batted an eye.
So for her to say that her biggest fear is fear itself, makes me, as her mom, sad. The freedom for her to live a life of great adventure is the greatest gift I wish to give her. And now she is wondering if she will be okay to ride her bike. Or swim. Or paddle board.
Will she surf again?
Can she jump off a mountain like she plans in February?
Can she jump out of an airplane, like she tells us she’ll do at 18?
Afraid of being afraid.
It’s a life-changer, for sure.
And I hold her hand and tell her that we are doing everything we can to eliminate a bunch of scary stuff in hopes that we find out she is perfectly healthy and just had some bad stuff happen to her for reasons unknown.
But that doesn’t erase what happened. And it doesn’t change the fact that now she may not live quite as carefree.
And I need to listen to her. I need to listen to her body. I need to listen when she speaks. Because she is the one living inside of her body, and she knows how it feels and needs to be able to communicate that to me.
A childhood friend of mine recently watched her son go through his third concussion. And, with that concussion, his entire life changed. Now, together, they are realizing that life has a different journey than the one he was walking. And it is something he must do to remain healthy and able.
She listened to her son. Now together they are fighting for his best life.
Here is his recent news interview, telling his story: http://www.azfamily.com/story/36611797/chandler-hs-senior-quits-football-due-to-concussion
Here is a second story on concussions and high school sports: http://www.azfamily.com/story/36162154/concussion-study-reveals-most-valley-parents-will-let-kids-play-football
Here is another childhood friend, Dr. Javier Cardenas, speaking of concussions and how to identify one in your child, as well as an App that can be used to teach children about concussions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHm4RPFgwEM
In the end, all we can do is live and teach our children to do so, as well. But, in living, we also need to stop and listen. What is our body telling us? What is our children’s bodies telling them?
Growing up, we learn that if you ever catch on fire, you are to do three things: Stop; Drop; Roll.
I find myself in this same position with my daughter:
Stop. How are you feeling?
Drop. Let’s stop everything to figure out why you feel the way you do.
And Roll. Let’s put out this “fire” in your life, so you can go on to live your best life possible.
It may be with a little more hesitation than before. But it’s still living.
And, in the end, that’s what counts the most!