City Girl Confessions: Knocking Out The Scary Bits

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City Girl Confessions is my recurring column in The Glencoe Anchor.

It’s the most wonderful time of year…for me. I am positively delighted by Halloween and all of its orange-and-black spooky splendor. I’ve been this way since I was a kid, poring over costume ideas and scouting haunted houses while immersing myself in scary books and movies. A witch’s hat has permanent residence on my shelf.

So it should come as no surprise that my 4-year-old pointed to a photo of a terrifying grim reaper and said, “I want that costume for Halloween.” 

Now normally, I would be all for my kids wearing a costume of their own choosing. But this one was a bit too frightening even for me, an actual adult, to consider. The good news is that she opted for the second choice costume on her list: a tomato (her favorite food). 

But all of this talk got me thinking about scary things- particularly the act of being scared. You see, the 4-year-old that was favoring grim reapers also learned to ride a bike this past week. And if you have ever taught a child to ride a bike you know this one simple truth: you will fall down a lot.

We practiced all summer long, gliding on a bike with the pedals removed, working on balance. We practiced to and from the bus. We practiced on sunny days and rainy ones, too. But then the falls started coming: falling while turning, falling while practicing a quick stop or start, falling while just being a bit clumsy at something new. I had to coax her to continue.

“But I’m scared,” she replied.

Truthfully, I could see why she felt that way…concrete stings, training wheels are a LOT more stable, and the future is unknown. Being scared is openly admitting that you are curious about the future, and all of the good and bad ways that it can form you.

So what happened next? She took some deep breaths and whispered, “Confidence, confidence” (this is our secret pep talk- a mantra we can say when we’re scared). Then she hopped on the bike and took off. I watched her legs maneuver the pedals and the wind catch her hair. I swear my heart soared up and out into the wind.

Her Halloween costume arrived later that day: round red tomato with a leafy green cap. It was hilariously oversized and she insisted on wearing it during dinner: small tomato girl in a big wooden chair. That moment was silly and fun. Yet I remembered who she was on the street mere minutes ago- the brave girl who kept pedaling, even after the botched attempts, even after the sting of concrete on her knee. Even when she admitted that fear was lingering.

October is most certainly the time of year to relish in the spooky stuff. As we seek a good scare, I like to remember the fragility of that emotion- it’s big, it’s little, it’s here, it’s gone, it’s over. We hold the power to to knock out the scary bits in our way- sometimes on bikes, sometimes as humans, and even dressed as tomatoes. Happy Halloween.

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