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My daughter is scared of her shadow

It doesn't matter how often I tell my daughter she can't drink water before bed. But she always gets 'thirsty'. Or she thinks of something that will ultimately lead us to the kitchen. She can be a strategic little girl when it suits her.  

This particular night I decided to only turn on the kitchen lights. So this meant we had darkness around us. And sure enough, we had some shadows outlined on the wall. I was busy trying to get her to drink the water she wanted; when I saw the look of terror she wore on her face. She pointed to the wall and said, 'mommy kgokgo,' loosely translated as a monster or something scary. Her adorable little face with all the fear and worry on it will be in my mind for a long time. 

 

I explained what it was, educating her on what she was seeing.

I told her it was a shadow. Reassured her on how safe she was. That the shadow wouldn't eat her as she feared. And how sometimes she would see shadows when it got dark, with a bit of light around. I doubt she clearly understood what I meant, but she listened all the same. I think what freaked her out the most was how her shadows kept moving as she moved.

So I made her aware of how mommy had a shadow as well. The thought of sharing something with me eased up the tension a little bit. Then we started pointing out shadows of everything we saw in the kitchen. It became a fun little game we shared, with giggles and loud 'look mommy' pleas.

 

We found a silver lining to our brief moment of fear.

So I started making shadow animals with my fingers for her. It took a moment for her to see what I was showing her. But when she eventually realized that mommy made a dog shape with her fingers, she was in awe of me—such a great feeling as a mom.

For a little while, we forgot why we had gone to the kitchen. We got lost in our newfound game. And then suddenly, shadows across the wall became fun and exciting for my sweet girl.

 

The trust my daughter has in me gives me a newfound purpose. 

It's such an honour having my little girl looking up to me for guidance and many times for reassurance. Her innocence is a pure gem. The wonder in her eyes and the hope she has in them is something I treasure.

I don't take her trust in me as her mom for granted. She is always sure that mommy will make anything better. And that if I can't kiss the pain to soothe, then Mommy will hug it better. It's that unwavering confidence she has in me to help her when she needs it. It's a rare gift to be afforded.

 

My daughter will have many more fears as she grows older.

I try to teach my daughter that it's okay to have fears. Sometimes fear is the thing we need to survive. Of course, some things I tell her won't make sense to her three-year-old mind. I say them anyway, though.

She feared her shadow, and I understood her fear. I didn't dismiss it. Instead, I explained what the shadow was. We found a way through her fear. 

 

“Fear is such a big emotion for my little girl, and she will have many more fears as she grows older. I try to teach her that it's okay to have fears. Sometimes fear is the thing we need to survive.”
 

As she grows older, she will have many more of these instances.

She might not get over some of them, and many of them might not even need mommy to help. I hope that she finds a way of living with them or through them. 

Conquering the issues she will face won't always be a possible option, but understanding them and finding a way to move through them could help. Because in truth, these are the aspects of life that give us character; they shape the people we become and through overcoming them, we find a new purpose. Or ultimately, we remind ourselves that they are what keep us in line. 

She is so brave, my little girl. She now asks me to switch off the lights to make shadow animals on the walls. It's become our special thing to do together. I couldn't be more proud of the growth and self-awareness she has come to know. 

Let's help our little ones with their "big emotions". These can be crippling emotions especially for their tiny hearts and minds. 


All my love

Ari & Kgoši's Momie ♥