My nine year old is visiting her dad in Pennsylvania for the summer. I love her daily updates on her adventures away from home.
Today she called me all excited..."Mommy there was this wildlife exhibit...and I touched a black snake!"
I was astounded by her bravery.
This is a child who has had a fear of snakes that seems to have started at birth.
Before she could talk, she would flail in panic in her bath as though something was on her feet. She would awaken in terror in the night, doing the same...kicking and screaming in terror. When she began to talk, her bathtime and nighttime terrors were accompanied by a scream of "NAKE! NAKE!" I was baffled.
It was not until we made a trip to a science museum that I understood what she had been trying to say...she took one look at the reptile exhibit and screamed, trying to pull in her feet and hide..."Nake! NAKE!" she yelled from under her blanket. We were standing in front of the snake cages. As far as I know, that was the very first time she ever saw a snake. And yet her fear had predated that exposure by months.
A few time before, she has tried to approach a snake. She has watched, from a distance of several yards, while I handled a boa at a mall nature booth. But her terror prevented her from coming any closer.
But today, she gathered her bravery and TOUCHED a snake. "It's cool and soft, Mommy" she told me, her voice bursting with pride. "And I touched it!"
I stand in awe -- she has faced a fear that has haunted her throughout her entire life. At nine years old.
How many of us are so brave as to touch our greatest fear?
Of course, there is a price for me to pay for her triumph...she wants me to go on the Great Bear roller coaster at Hershey Park when I go up there later this summer.
I am TERRIFIED of rollar coasters! But unfortunately, unlike with snakes, just touching the ride doesn't count.
I only hope at the end of July, I will be as brave as my 9 year old daughter...but her example is going to be a hard one to follow!