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You Knock One Down, Another Takes Its Place

First, the good news -

Maddie is no longer afraid to go under water! In what is now
becoming typical fashion for her, something simply switched on
inside Maddie’s head last week and she decided she
wasn’t afraid to put her face in the water. Thursday morning
at swim class, no face in the water. Thursday night at the pool,
face in the water over and over and over. And ever since then,
Maddie begs for pool time, plunging in with goggles strapped
securely on and wriggling to me or Daddy.

But just as I wipe my brow and say, Whew, another fear conquered,
something else comes up and we start all over again.

Today is the first day of a week-long
ballet camp for Maddie- something she’s been looking forward
to for months. The camp is two hours a day for a week, and the kids
explore the ballet Sleeping Beauty: they “build”
costumes, do craft projects to make scenery, listen to the music,
and of course, dance. Maddie’s excitement has been gradually
waning as the date draws nearer, and last night she freaked out.

Bedtime was a riot of tears and screams and begging not to go.
Brian kept pushing Maddie, asking why she didn’t want to do
it any more – did she not like Miss Linda? Was she worried
Cora would play with all her toys? To everything, Maddie answered
No, over and over again, until she shouted, “It’s none
of those things, Daddy, I’m just scared!”

Half an hour of cuddling later, we reached a conclusion: Maddie
will go for one day, but has the right to refuse to go again. She
was absolutely intractable until we prayed about it together,
praying against her fear and praying for God to be there in the
midst of the camp with her. Now, she’s resigned and
terrified, but has promised to try it one day.

I could, of course, allow her to stay home and not go at all. But
what will happen on the first day of school in September? Do I let
her choose to stay home then? And then what would happen the next
year for school, when she’s legally required to go to school?
I know making her go is the right thing to do. I just don’t
like how it makes me feel.

Will we ever conquer this fear of the unknown? The pediatrician
thinks we’re in for a long ride. And I’m trying to love
my daughter through this, giving her unconditional love and
acceptance while not giving in to her fears. I know that gently
helping her through this is one of the best things I can do for her
and her future; I have to equip her to face her fears, since life
is nothing if not full of unknowns.

Maddie’s asleep still right now, and I can’t begin to
predict how she’ll wake up: resigned and resolute? Kicking
and screaming? Will I be escorting a listless preschooler to ballet
class, or forcibly fighting to get her into a pair of tights and in
the car? Or perhaps God will work a miracle, and she’ll wake
up with peace and anticipation in her heart.

I can only hope.


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