Thursday, July 29, 2010

He Did Overcome!

This morning I was remembering a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt that correlated directly with what I wanted to write about today.  To get the quote exactly right, I did an internet search.  I found more than just the selection I was looking for.  As I read through Eleanor's most famous excerpts, I became increasingly inspired.  I found that about 90% of the things she said were pertinent my life today. I wanted to copy these words down and hang them on my wall so I wouldn't forget (which I will likely do when I am done with this).  This introduction has little to do with today's blog - I just wanted to let you know that Eleanor had some very intelligent, sensible things to say which enlivened my spirit.  I might be a little behind the times here - but don't be surprised if I start going all Eleanor Roosevelt on you.

eleanor roosevelt


I believe that anyone can conquer fear by doing the things he fears to do, provided he keeps doing them until he gets a record of successful experience behind him. Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt lived from 1884 until 1962.  When I mentioned her to my seven year old son, Mikey, he had no idea who I was talking about.  Still, her words, above, are directly related to a recent achievement on his part of which his father and I are very proud.  You see, Mikey faced and overcame a fear that has plagued him for more than half of his life.  He accomplished this by acting just as Eleanor had suggested over 50 years ago - he did the very thing he was afraid of - and he did it in a big way.

When Mikey was three, his baby brother Marko was born.  While my husband and I were at the hospital welcoming little Marko into the world, (a very painful welcome as far as I was concerned - but that is another story) Mikey and his brothers stayed at their Grandmother's house.  We don't know whether or not that short period of separation was the inception of Mikey's anxiety  - but, what we do know is that after those few days, Mikey's willingness to sleep away from his family ceased.

Now, Mikey is not a fearful child by nature.  In fact, it is difficult to find anything that scares him.  He definitely isn't afraid of his father or me.  Mikey is a daredevil who cares nothing about danger or possible consequences.  He scales the tall fence at the ball field even though he had been told four thousand times not to go near it.  He pulled crabs out of the ocean with his bare hands.  He climbs all the way to the top of the wall at the pool, and then drops 20 feet down into ten feet of water, making sure he touched bottom before coming up for air.  He will climb anything, jump from any height and challenge anyone.  There is no dare he was willing to pass up.  Mikey was born a larger than life, fearless alpha male, and no one or no thing has ever been able to make him feel small. Except - his fear of spending the night away from his family.

This nervousness was not due to a lack of desire.  Mikey was invited to sleep over at friends houses many times - and he was always excited to go - always certain that he would succeed.  He packed his clothes, toothbrush, pillow and sleeping bag and he took off.  But then, infallibly, the moment bedtime was mentioned, his eyes widened, his two sucking fingers entered his mouth and tears started rolling down his cheeks. With great sorrow, he would whisper "I want to go home."  We have, as a result,  received numerous late night phone calls prompting us to go out in our pajamas and bring our Mikey home.  Each time this happened, we then sat up for hours consoling an angry, sobbing Mikey who was full of shame and self-loathing.

But, as Eleanor said, one conquers fear by doing the thing he fears to do.  This is exactly what my little boy finally did.

We had been bringing Mikey's older brothers to Camp Shaw Waw Nas See for eleven years. This was the first year Mikey was old enough to stay overnight.  He had seen his brothers off to camp every summer of his life, and now it was finally his turn.  Mikey had been telling people he was going away to camp for ages - but then, a few days before he and Elijah were set to leave, that old fear returned.  Mikey wanted to go to camp, but HE DID NOT WANT TO SLEEP THERE!  We took turns trying to convince him, but the more anyone talked about it, the more upset and adamant he became.  Mikey insisted that if he had to sleep at camp he wouldn't go to camp. We took turns trying to persuade him, and finally, exhausted, we made arrangements for him to attend camp during the day and come home at night. Everything was settled, Mikey was pacified, and that was the end of that.

But then, at the last possible moment - some part of that seven year old boy - some inner strength exerted itself and defeated the fear.  On the day Elijah was leaving for camp, Mikey suddenly announced that he was going too!  My first thought was "damn, now I have to pack both of them."  But then I was beaming.  I was so proud of my courageous son.

On the first night my husband and I waited anxiously for the phone call.  The second night we put the phone next to the bed.  By the third night, it was clear that he was victorious.  He had faced fear and he had overcome. He spent six nights at Camp Shaw, in a cabin of boys and counselors he had never met before, and he had the time of his life.  

I will say he came home with an even bigger larger-than-life attitude than before - and at moments I've felt he needed to humbled a bit - but I am yet to find any person or any thing sizable enough to knock Mikey down.


  1. i KNEW he could do it!!! <3 squirt

  2. Thanks to camp - I owe you guys!