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Friday, December 20, 2002

continued from above
The night my dad wrecked his car (he was sober, by the way), I had been sitting in my bedroom with my baseball glove in my hand. I had no plans to play catch with Dad that evening, but when I picked up the glove I had a brief flash of the commercial. That was followed by the quick thought: I hope Dad doesn’t have a wreck. The minutes ticked by and Dad didn’t come home. He had a wreck. It was really a minor fender bender that cut Dad’s head a little bit, but it scared me.

That moment still scares me a little bit, because there has always been a small part of me that believed that my thought about Dad crashing his car led to the wreck. I never told people that, fearing they would think me a lunatic. Then a few months ago I saw my county’s Sheriff driving down the road. I had a brief thought that he’d die in a car wreck. A week later he crashed his car. As it turned out he died from a massive heart attack. That fact didn’t stop me from thinking about Dad.

I think the family had been at my grandparents’ house the night burglars broke into our house on Yulan. Most of the memories are pretty mixed up in the fear. But the images are clear: A teddy bear ripped open, his stuffing entrails falling out of his stomach; our dog Bernie running all over the house; my grandparents arriving and advising me not to touch anything. I was scared that night. And though at age 29, I often forget to lock my home’s doors, the thought of that night still scares me.

I’m sure a few more times would qualify as scary, but I don’t remember many of them. In fact, I remember my youth as relatively fear-free.

Now, I seek out things that will give me a little scare. It takes quite a bit to get my adrenaline pumping.

As an adult, I wonder if this is a lesson for me. Perhaps as a parent I should force my future children into scary situations. It will save me worrying about them becoming an adrenaline junky like me.

Then again, maybe that’s a parent’s role. As I write this, I realize that my parents likely absorbed all the fear for me as a child. Without allowing me to notice, they sheltered me from the worst of fears. They couldn’t stop the car wreck, the burglars, or the green-faced witch that crawled in my window every night.

But everything else…they stopped.

I knew a lot of scared kids when I was young. I bet they are still scared today. It makes me believe that the scared kids grow up to be scared adults and fearless kids grow up to be fearless adults.

I’m happy to count myself among the latter.

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