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My son has always been timid. When he was a baby, he cried when he lost his pacifier in his crib. If I laughed too loudly, he might burst into tears. Once, he was asleep in his bassinet as my husband and I turned on a movie. The MGM lion roared, and he woke in a panic that seemed to take forever to calm. Now, at five years old, my son wrestles, runs, fights, and screams at the television. He pretends to fight bad guys and save me and his twin sister. He thinks he is the king of the world, a superhero in training. But guess what? He’s still timid.

Once, we were at a festival, and he was playing with a ridiculously priced bubble-making sword I was conned into buying. He was running and playing with other children, and I was watching over him and smiling at his excitement. Then, he stopped running. He turned around, and his chin wobbled. His beautiful blue eyes widened, and he began to cry. He didn’t see me. I ran to him, and the relief on his face when he saw me broke my heart. He thought I was gone even though I was just a few paces away.

If my son sees a flying insect, especially one that buzzes, you would think he was in a life-or-death situation. Once, I buckled him into his car seat, turned to shut the door and get into my own seat, and then jumped when I heard a blood-curdling scream. A large mosquito was in the car, and my little man was trapped. He kicked, he screamed, and he grabbed onto my shirt as I tried to coax the bug out of the back seat. I ended up having to take off my shoe to squish the trespassing (and harmless) mosquito. Even then, he had to see the evidence before I could shut the door.

When we are at a park, my son is never the first child to go down the big slide. He watches the other children first, calculating just how dangerous he thinks it might be. I love to watch his little forehead wrinkle as he decides if he is willing to take the plunge. Sometimes, he never goes down the slide at all. He sticks to the swing set and begs me to keep pushing him higher. Other times, he works up the courage and goes down the slide, but only with me waiting at the bottom to catch him.

Too often, boys are expected to be fearless and tough. Even my son often thinks he is the strongest man in the room. But when he doesn’t, I make sure to let him know that it is okay to be scared. It is okay to be nervous. He doesn’t have to go down the big slide if he doesn’t want to. Though other kids might think he is too scared to handle it, I disagree. He is smart enough to know he might not be ready for it quite yet.

I’ll always be there to catch him, to kill his bugs, and to watch him as he plays. Do I need to encourage him to be brave? Absolutely. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be a soft place to land when he’s feeling insecure. In a few short months, my boy will be starting kindergarten with his feisty and fearless twin sister. For the first time, he will have to squash some of his fears on his own. It scares me more than it will scare him, but I can already see him wrinkling his forehead and calculating the risks. I won’t always be by his side to give him the courage he needs, but I hope he always feels my presence and encouragement in his heart.

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So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Emmy Craig

Emmy is a wife, mother, and teacher with a love for reading and writing.

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