How do you talk about FEAR to a 9-year-old?
The other day I had to talk about FEAR with my son and that demanded me to get creative. I could not definitely talk to him about Fear the way I talk to my clients.
Gui (how we call him) came home after school feeling really scared. This was not usual and so I was curious about that and stayed watchful. And soon I found out that another boy from his class had taken a book to school which was about ghosts and horror stories. He was feeling so scared that he didn't even want to walk in the dark areas of the house. So, that evening I decided to join him as he was brushing his teeth before going to bed. I could see fear was really playing a big role that night and so I asked him in a very curious tone of voice:
- Gui, if fear was a Pokémon, what Pokémon would it be?
(Let me just add here that I know NOTHING about Pokémons except that he is CRAZY about that!)
He was kind of surprised with my question so I repeated it.
- "Gastly, mum". (of course that first I had to learn to say the name because he was saying it HIS way)
As I said before, I know nothing about Pokémons but I remembered something that could be really useful. Over the last years there's a word I've been correcting him on, because of the way he pronounces it, and that word is EVOLUTION. So, I knew that Pokémons have evolutions and that was just what I needed to talk to him about FEAR.
After exploring with him a bit of the story of "Gastly", the FEAR Pokémon, he told me its evolution was "Haunter" (a really suitable name, I might say!) and this also had another evolution, called "Gengar". Well, this post is not about Pokémons, but stay with me.
Now that I had gained his trust and I was really listening to a subject that he adores and to which I had never paid attention before, I had won the right and the space to do my own magic.
Does fear start really strong? Does fear evolves into a much stronger version of itself, like pókemons do? SURE! How? Feeding it, believing in it, allowing it to take control over our lives and from stopping us to take action on our dreams, our goals, or whatever it is that we want to do with or in our lives.
So, there I was, putting my boy to sleep but not before I ask him to pick up the Gameboy (or something of that type that his cousin lent him) and to show me those pókemons. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing… I could almost hear him thinking “my mum wants ME to play and SHE wants to see it?”
There he was… so excited as he was showing me the game I understand nothing of, and it’s when I ask him:
- Gui, who decides if the Pokémon evolves or not? You or the Pokémon?
- Me, mum!
- If the Pokémon has evolved to its last evolution, who is more powerful? You or the Pokémon?
- Me, mum!
- Who is playing the game? You or the Pokémon?
- Me, mum!
- Who has the power to shut this game off? You or the Pokémon?
- Me, mum!
- The same with FEAR my son! You see it, you feel it but YOU are in charge, YOU are playing the game, not Fear. But, like the Pokémons, the more you feed it, the more attention you pay to it, the stronger it will become. We don't want Fear to become "Gengar"... we want to deal with fear while it's still "Gastly". And Gastly is an important Pokémon because it keeps you safe, it makes you be watchful as you cross the road, it keeps you way from fire… so it’s a good thing.
If you could just see the look in his eyes and his face... HE GOT IT!
In less than a minute he was smiling, really courageous and empowered to go to a good night sleep, all by himself. I kiss him goodnight, tell him I love him and as I’m leaving his room…
- Mum, can I change the name of the Pokémon? After all Fear is not that bad.