Curiosity Instead of Fear
They actually have quite a lot in common. Energetic, easily distracted, likes being around people, okay, correction– LOVES being around people, loves to play, boundless enthusiasm and a clean slate which helps them to engage life curious but not fearful.
Our previous dog, Max, (and yes, not a day goes by that I don’t miss him) was a rescue of a rescue and came to our family full of fear. He started out his puppy life in an abandoned car dealership lot in South Central L.A. surrounded by dead animal carcasses. We couldn’t even clip our own nails in the same room with him because the sound frightened him. He eventually grew to trust us but he never fully outgrew his fear of every unfamiliar noise and every dog.
Koa came to us as a ten week old puppy without any experience of neglect or abuse. The sounds around our house that used to frighten Max like the ice maker or vacuum cleaner evoked curiosity and he would move toward rather than away from the sounds in order to investigate. It was fascinating to observe how differently he approached the unknown.
Julia has had her share of struggles with having food allergies, but I pointed out something to her months back. She is blessed with a dad who emotionally, verbally and physically is present and warm. I reminded her of those late night outings with him to drive around just to look for bunnies when she was car seat age. And the hours before Thanksgiving one year he spent looking through recipes for pumpkin pie (his personal favorite) to find one that he could make for her that didn’t require milk and eggs. Just a few days ago, Julia was cleaning out her desk and found a picture. “Dad colored this one for me.” For a man with such strength and broad shoulders, he sure does an amazing job coloring in “My Little Ponies” pictures. The two of them share artistic talent that I admire and don’t have an ounce of.
And not only is she blessed with a great dad, her older brothers are also good to her. Sure they have sibling strife here and there, but overall her experience has been extremely positive. And not only is she blessed with a great dad and brothers, some of her closest friends are boys and they are thoughtful, generous and kind to her. She has no reason to think that men and boys can hurt or harm girls. In her mind, men are good. And they are good to her.
And that is a gift.
And this gift helps her to engage life curious and not fearful. Already I see how she is able to use her voice. In class a few months back one of the kids was making fun of something Asian and she spoke into the situation to that classmate and expressed that she felt hurt and offended by the comments because she is Asian. Wow. I know I couldn’t do that at age nine.
Most college women, and I really mean MOST, I’ve worked with over the years have been hurt deeply by men. God is able to heal and restore trust for them, for me, but I’ve noticed a marked difference with the handful of women I’ve met who have grown up with the gift of good men. I see in these women less striving, confident humility, strong voice but not overbearing, able to lead but comfortable not having to be in control, very high respect for men, failure rolls off easily and doesn’t shake them, and they tend to pick other healthy people to be around.
Most of the time, our situations and experiences happen to us not because of us. In Julia’s case there was nothing she did to cause her food allergies in the same way that nothing she did caused her to be blessed with good men.
I am thankful for this good gift for her. I see her grow and move into relationships with a quiet confidence. Out of this secure place she will be able to take risks and speak into injustice, think about life outside of her own little world, and link arms together with men instead of being competitive, untrusting or marginalized.
And as with every generation of parent, we try our best–stumbling, failing, learning, unlearning, learning again with hope the next generation will fare better. In Julia’s case, the gift she has gives her a huge head start.