Last Friday our soon-to-be-daughter-but-in-all-reality-our-daughter-already had no school. She is in K5 and was pretty fired up at the prospect of not having to get up early and go through the usual morning routine. She enjoyed a bit of snuggle time, some prolonged lounging in her pj’s and had a leisurely breakfast while reviewing the morning paper with her parents. Little did she know that we had a surprise lined up for the afternoon.
This past December, when Santa Claus, who has a striking resemblance on the phone to Gina’s Dad, called her and asked her what she wanted for Christmas, she said, “Anything you want to bring me will be nice…and I’d also like a horse.”
Kind and generous-hearted people Sandie and Bob offered to give our little one a chance to meet a real horse -up close and personal. We have learned that with her, it’s best to give such information rather close to the event, so during lunch we discussed what we were doing to do with the rest of our day off. Then we told her. She would soon be meeting, face to face, Rosie, a gentle and well-mannnered horse. He (yes, Rosie is a he) was looking forward to meeting her, we told her, and so as soon as we finished lunch… she ran to her room and hid under the covers.
Daughter: “I’m not going. I don’t want to meet that dumb horse.”
Me: “Yes we are going. You can go to the car yourself or I can carry you – it’s your choice.”
Daughter: (being carried in my arms): “I’m not going and you can’t make me.”
Me: “We’re going to go. Some really nice people invited us and I’d like to meet the horse. You don’t have to meet the horse, but you can come along.”
40 minutes later, she was in the barn asking Sandie lots of questions about the horse, feeding him carrots, and petting his soft, velvety nose. Wihtout hesitation she got on his back and while Sandie led Rosie and Bob and I walked, then jogged, then walked, then jogged, then ran, then walked, alongside to provide some additional spotting, she sat atop of Rosie grinning from ear to ear. She put her arms high in the air, she turned around in the saddle, she petted Rosie several times, and she was a real natural. After the ride, she helped Sandie to bandage his sensitive ankle, brush him, give him a few more carrots, and asked lots of questions. The barn cats provided momentary entertainment but the horse was the focus. Rosie was walked to his staff where our little girl said goodbye to him and thanked him for letting her ride him. It was very sweet.
Later, as we were leaving, she said, “I love Rosie.” I asked her why, earlier in the day, she was hiding under her covers and didn’t want to come out. She concluded that it was due to her feeling afraid and nervous about trying something new.
Hopefully as grown-ups we no longer literally cover ourselves with a blanket and refuse to be open to some new experience… but maybe there are some folks out there who still try that mode of avoidance! There are a lot of ways, however, to refuse to allow fear and anxiety to rule our decisions and therefore prevent us from being open to a new experiience, relationship or moment of grace. In those moments when we are faced with something that may seem too wonderful, exciting, frightening, colossal, overwhelming or just plan too much, we may want to stop and ask ourselves, “Am I hiding under the covers right now because I am afraid? What new lesson may be waiting for me in this moment, in this event the outcome of which I have no clue?”