Coping with Fear

This has been a long week, and was definitely not the way I envisioned spending the last week of summer vacation with my kids. I won’t go into the gory details, but the basic rundown is that we experienced a burglary, which triggered a series of events that ended in a frightening confrontation, one which put me and the Heathens in real danger. These events played out here at our home, in front of my children. G-Man actually had to run for the phone so I could call 911, and guard his sister until the police came, which is an experience no ten year-old boy should have.

Since this happened, I’ve been struggling with how to help my kids process these events. At their ages, my boys are old enough to know that bad things happen. However, they understand this concept the same way that they understand that there are pyramids in Egypt…only because someone told them about it. They’ve never experienced anything truly frightening firsthand, let alone something that robbed them of that childlike certainty that Home is always a safe place. Sure, they’ve been scared of thunderstorms, loud noises, and the dark, but we’ve always been there to assure them not to worry, because we are always safe, tucked inside our warm and happy house.

In the immediate aftermath, I did my best to reassure the boys that everything was fine, but I’m not naïve enough to think that they didn’t notice that I was distracted and tense, as I waited for word from the police that the danger had passed. Even if I had an Oscar-winning acting ability, the fact that we were on lockdown kind of clued them in.

Eventually, the situation was resolved, at least temporarily, but then came the larger task of getting our home back into some semblance of normal. We’ve been doing this the only way we know how: the comfort of togetherness and routine. My husband played the same game he does with them every day. I cranked up my kitchen stereo, and cooked dinner to the tunes of Bob Marley, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Mumford & Sons, while the Heathens wandered in and out of the kitchen and my husband danced Bean around the house….just like we do every evening. Maybe French Toast wasn’t the most healthy dinner choice, but it sure was comforting. We snuggled in bed to watch a movie, and then kept the same bedtime routine we’ve had every night this summer. By night’s end, I think we made definite progress in healing the damage of that awful day.

Things have improved this morning, and we’re staying busy by readying ourselves for the first day of school tomorrow. Though we feel better, the Heathens still notice the subtle changes that have stolen into our routine. G-Man wondered why he couldn’t take out the trash without my supervision, and Bear keeps asking why I have the phone with me all the time.

So, yeah, it’s been a long week, but school starts tomorrow, giving my oh-so-bored kids plenty to keep them occupied…which in turn, keeps them from trying to beat each other to death with foam swords.

For these small things, I am grateful.

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