Wednesday, 22 January 2014

The Sum of All Fears

One of the experiences Tasmania had to offer us visitors is that of the chairlift. We actually stumbled (and went across) two of those, mostly due to the excited son of ours. To him, it seemed as if those chairlifts almost managed to compensate for all the forest walks and lookouts we dragged him through when all he ever wanted to do is play on the iPad in the comfortable confines of our hotel room.
Alas, there is a slight problem with chairlifts: yours truly is afraid of heights. Thus when my son and I boarded the chairlift for the first time, he was cheerfully shifting way too much on his chair while I was occupying myself taking photos. That is, up until the point I noticed the camera is slipping out of my hands due to the excessive sweat on my palms.
I explained what was going on to my son, who replied with a surprising comment: “Abba [that’s me]”, he half asked, “I thought you are not afraid of anything!”
What an interesting statement to make. It opened a dam-ful of opportunities for discussion, which I did use (anything to distract me from the horrors of the chairlift!). I explained about seemingly irrational fears and their evolutionary basis: I told him my Room 101 would be filled with cockroaches and I explained why humans often have a problem with such insects; I continues to explain how this species of ours, which came down from the trees and lost the ability to tree walk, benefitted from height related phobias – those who stayed on the ground lived longer. And I continued to explain that evolution is great and all, but some people still have irrational fears for all sorts of reasons, and I am certainly not immune to the irrational.
It was, as one can expect, an interesting discussion. One of those where my son’s eyes could tell me he was gobbling up the information I was offering as the cogs behind the eyes were digesting them. Most of all, it gave me a glimpse into how my son perceives me as a parent: impeccable and invincible.
Boy, is he up for a life of disappointments.

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