Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Spoonful of Fear Helps the Medicine Go Down

Fear is a funny thing. It prepares us by assuming things will be much worse than they actually are.

In fourth grade, the powers that were decided to cut back and combine the fourth and fifth grade into one grand (and fiscally responsible class) of forty students and one elderly and slightly insane teacher. Despite the fact that Mrs C. tucked her breasts into her two-toned polyester pant suits and snorted pig-like 'oinks' while grading papers, she bravely attempted to teach half the class in basic math and the other in long division.

I remember looking up from my 'oh so easy' fourth grade reader and witnessing the green chalk board filled with numbers that seemed to go on forever. Line after line, zero's added to the end... 9,340,330 divided by 34, how could they ever find the answer? Who did they think they were? Fifth grade was something to be feared.

At ten I knew that a year was clearly not enough time to gain that profound knowledge. I thought, "I will never be there. How are these geniuses understanding hieroglyphics?"

Of course with another year under my belt, fifth grade math was as easy as pie (the math kind, not the key lime), and I realized that fear is all perspective. Between the time we fear something and then actually live it, we've prepared ourselves accordingly. We just don't know it. Those late night worries of worst-case-scenerio may be a good thing after all.

I remember reading an article about how a mother's brain works. When we have a child we start thinking about 'what-if's' in all situations. We look at our child sitting under the the tv quietly entertaining herself and we play out a 'what if' worst- case-scenerio. There's an earthquake, the TV starts to shake, we picture ourselves diving to the floor swooping our child out of harms way. Reinacting this event that has never been inacted is an evolutionary way we've kept our broods alive. The fear of what could happen awakens a part of our brain so should the unlikely happen, we will be ready...ready to dive under the tv, walk through the fire, sit through your child's surgery. We are always preparing ourselves for the worst, not because it's likely or because as mothers we love to worry, rather to protect ourselves and children from falling appliances, saber toothed tigers, and general anesthesia.

Those late night moments devoted to fear that fifth grade will be like med school for ten year olds might protect us from the fact that it clearly isn't. Fifth grade wasn't ancient sanskrit, the dreaded g-tube wasn't a lung transplant, and our televisions and bookshelves have been securely fastened in the event of a major earthquake. Life goes on, fortunately. And a little dose of fear now and again, could be the reason why.


Lydia Russell said...

Thanks for the dose of clear thinking. It was well needed today. It sounds like the G-tube isn't that big of a deal though. :)

Tami Draxler said...

No, it's not a lung transplant. But, it sure as heck throws you for a loop when you contemplate getting one for your beautiful, perfect kid, though, huh?

May all of our CF related decisions end up to be "small potatoes" in the grand scheme...

Jenny Livingston said...

I worry. I fear. It's part of my genetic makeup. And I've come to find out that it's not ALWAYS a bad thing.

I just started following your blog today and have to say that I love your writing. I also want to cover your Froggy in kisses, but because that's a little creepy and since I have CF also and wouldn't want any cross-contamination going on, I'll refrain. But she sure is adorable!