Now that scared me!

I don’t scare easily. In grade school, I heard absolutely dreadful things would happen if this or that person received the national nod to be our president. Horrors! If that man was elected, we would have to go to school on Saturday! The man won – we never had school on Saturday.

Shows with contestants dealing with gobs of gross, gory gunky things do not chill me with their vicarious experiences. After six children, I’ve dealt with my share of gross stuff and creepy crawlies. I don’t like it, but I manage real life situations.

In spite of many articles and discussions in 1999 that power generators, banks and transportation would halt everything as the calendar rolled over into 2000 A.D., I believed my son, the computer expert, and made not preparations for the electronic crash – which never happened.

No, I am not easily scared, but a simple note that my child’s class would take a field trip to the zoo struck a note of fear so deeply inside me it could not be fathomed.
My red alert alarms began winding up when her church teachers sent that message to me.

I always advocated that my children venture forth and try new experiences – but a pre-schooler?! I was not too sure about that. I didn’t want to let her out of my sight that long, but neither I did want her to be the only one who did not go.

Silently, I envisioned everything. She could get lost, kidnapped, left behind, hurt or worse my fears screamed.

Common sense and my training from my own parents fought back. After seeing lives dominated by fear, my parents quietly insisted that their children work through fear and not allow it to win.

I felt their training dissipating the day I read that “trip to the zoo” announcement.

Only looking back over the years do I realize how pervasively fear haunted my decision to let my small child go on a simple field trip to the zoo.
The day of the trip, I dressed her in a cute T-shirt, a pair of shorts, socks and sneakers. With her white-blonde hair and perfect little smile, she looked absolutely darling.

“But what if she gets lost?” my fears begged. “How would anyone know where she belonged?”

Just having her know her name and address did not impress me. Something horrible, something unmentionable might happen and she might not be able to say her name. She might be confused or lost.

She needed a name tag – one she could not lose.

I took out a pen and wrote her name and address on her arm.
That quieted the voice of fear – for a bit.
But, only for a bit.

I picked up the pen again and wrote her name and address on her other arm.
A couple minutes later, still not happy, I wrote it on her back.
The irrational voice of fear quieted, I took her to church to meet the group.
No one could see her back, but the arms were another story.
I left her without an explanation for her temporary tattoos, went home and had a worry free day.

She had a great day at the zoo.

She came home safe and sound – without a single inked address on her anywhere.
I never asked what happened to her identification tags.

I never mentioned my solution to my husband – at least not until recently when I reflected on my fear-driven actions that day.

It was a silly thing to do – but, at the same time, no matter how scared I felt, my childhood training held and my irrational fears did not win. She went on a well planned and supervised class trip and came home happy and content while I had a perfectly calm day at home.