The Land of Fear and What Ifs
Co Authored by Chloe Estelle and Gail Carrier
So, first day of school. We all remember that right? The importance of that first impression, leading to picking out the first day outfit. All the effort going into what things could possible go wrong. What if I walk into the wrong classroom? What if I sit with the wrong people? What if I forget my pencil? What if I get lost? What if I say the wrong thing? What if, What If, What If. You can go wallow in What If land forever, the land of fear and everything that could go wrong. What good does that do? You can’t possibly prepare for every disaster that might spring up. And what really is so bad if you end up in the wrong classroom? Is that really the end of the world? Look back on the last first day you have had; how much do you remember of what anyone else did that day?
As a child there were countless times where my parents acted out of this land of what ifs. I was punished for something that I may do in the future. I couldn’t spend so much time on the computer because I may end up wasting my life behind this screen and not end up getting a job. You know, because middle school me who didn’t have friends to hang out with would end up a deadbeat for pretending to be an elven warrior online too often or raising a virtual animal. Oh, I shouldn’t wear suspenders because I might be bullied by my peers. Also, I probably should get home before dark because statistically speaking murders and rapists only come out at night, like vampires.
Now, hold up- Chloe, people do get bullied and murdered and rape. These aren’t irrational fears. These are cold hard facts. Sure it could happen. There are so many things that could happen. I could also win the lottery. I could also go on my first audition and become a star on a television show. So many things could happen. Do we have to prepare for every single one? I mean, sure if that was possible. It’s just not. It is a waste of energy and not only that but a hurtful waste of energy to be sending out to another person. It’s okay to be scared, but remember that it distorts your reality and acting upon that fear will never have a good reaction.
Hey, Chloe’s mom here! Yes I did those things, but in my defense- the experts were all telling me that was what I was supposed to do. Was it working? No! And yet, I kept trying over and over again- until I finally stepped back and saw: this wasn’t working. Now what? I soon came to the realization that I was parenting out of fear- my fears. I parented under the cover of wanting to protect my baby from all the bad things that could possibly go wrong. Of course, my fears never actually came to pass. All I did was end up putting my anxiety onto my daughter. She felt the opposite of what I intended. With lots of work, I began to look at each situation as it was instead of what it might be.
Parents of those on the spectrum have this fear to a more extreme. Seriously, sometimes you all act like it’s the end of the world when I am just having trouble with transitioning out the door today. We all have bad days. No need to jump to the worst possible conclusion. I’m not going to become sickly because I like to eat the same meal everyday. I am not going to live a life of solidarity because I need to stimm by flapping my hands in public. Not just parents, teachers do this to. Have you ever heard of that rule that only one student at a time can go to the bathroom because you know what might happen? The entire class could just up and leave and wander the school when they claim they are going to the bathroom. I have never heard of such an irrational conclusion to come to, yet so many teachers have this rule to prevent mass chaos.
We as parents have so much noise in our heads from friends, experts, teachers, school officials telling us that we are bad parents. You have to get your child to school more, off the computer/TV, exercise more, eat better, etc. When I finally said: shut the fuck up and listened to my heart, I knew what to do. Listen to your child. She was telling me what she needed. I just wasn’t hearing her. Be in the present by teaching to to what is in front of you, not what might be. Most of all accept and love your child for who she is because she is amazing.