Brave chickens

My girls — No longer this crazy but now twice as brave.

The spookiness of the season seems to be taking its toll on my grandsons.

Mac, who's 16 months old and has been sleeping through the night for quite some time, has awakened screaming in the middle of the night for more than a week now. After ruling out illness, teething, earaches and pains, the only logical reason may be nightmares attributed to spider and ghost decor, plus viewings of Mickey's House of Villains at Bubby's side.

And Bubby, who loves those cartoons of Donald and Mickey braving scary places and villains in his current favorite DVD, doesn't fare as well with his own made-up tales. Megan said Bubby asked for a flashlight a few evenings ago and for Megan to join him in a spooky storytelling session. Only, once Bubby started telling the spooky made-up tale he hoped to share, he declared, "No, I gotta stop! It's too scary!" Megan tried to convince him that as he was the storyteller, the degree of spookiness was completely up to him, yet Bubby refused to go on.

Megan's concerned a bit by Mac's fears, chuckles a bit at Bubby's. I told her to consider what a chicken she was as a child. This is the daughter who, all the way up until leaving for college, would literally run to and from the bathroom if she had to pee in the middle of the night and who used a night light up until she got married. Heck, I'm pretty sure she still uses a night light—disguised as two baby monitors she swears she can't yet give up, for the boys' sake, of course.

Megan is a chicken. Her boys clearly take after her.

In so many other ways, though, Megan is far from a chicken, and brave far beyond what I ever expected of my chicken little girl. She was the first daughter to go far away to a college where she knew no one, a place seven hours from home. She also was the first to move far away from the family home after college to make her own home with her husband. And she was the first to bravely run an official half marathon race—a challenge she asked her sisters to do along with her, for their first times, in just a few weeks.

Her sisters accepted the invitation and will fly to the desert the first weekend of November to run 13.1 miles with Megan. Which shouldn't surprise me as my girls—typically so very different in so very many ways—are very much the same when it comes to bravery in the face of challenge and opportunity.

My youngest, Andrea, has from day one done crazy, daring acts that forever live in family lore. Things like the time she unexpectedly jumped from our boat while no one was looking, right into the cold waters of a mountain lake where we vacationed, just to shock us all. Or touched her tongue to the frozen wrought iron stair railing to see if it really would stay stuck to it (it did). And like yesterday, when she flew off—alone—on yet another solo vacation to parts of the country she's not yet seen.

My oldest, Brianna, may not (yet) take vacations on her own, but she regularly stares down fear and faces challenges of other sorts. One example: This weekend she is riding a bike down Pikes Peak. Yes, you read that right. Early tomorrow morning, Brianna and a friend will, starting at the summit, hop on bicycles—not motorcycles—and pedal down the 14,000-foot-plus mountain. For fun. Crazy, crazy, crazy. And brave, I must admit.

How that happened—how my daughters ended up brave in so many ways—I have no clue. They definitely didn't get it from me. They didn't get it from Jim, either, to be sure, as we're both rather chicken-like in myriad ways of our own.

So when it comes to Bubby and Mac being scared—whether at Halloween or of harrowing acts in the future—I'll continually advise them to look to their mommy and aunts as role models on how to be brave, how to feel most any fear yet do most anything anyway.

For models of bravery are what my daughters have been to me, and what they will always be.

Regardless of how long they use a nightlight.

Today's question:

What about Halloween used to (or still does) make a chicken of you?

13 things that scare me


During this spooky season, it's not goblins and ghosts that give me goosebumps, but these...

13 things that scare me:

• Holiday potlucks with people I don't know well enough to have been to their house to see how they prepare food

• Holiday potlucks with some of the people I do know well enough to have been to their house to see how they prepare food

• The sound of rocks being stacked, reminding me of Crowhaven Farm

• One of my grandkids...or kids...or Jim...or myself falling down the millions of stairs in my house

• The state of our society as we struggle to adjust to and compensate for the thousands (millions?) of jobs lost that will never return

• Grown men in Speedos

• Having a flat tire in a dark, relatively seedy part of Denver after a PR event. (Which, believe it or not, happened last night. Luckily Brianna drove, Brianna changed the tire...while I used my iPhone as a flashlight for her.)

My boiler

• Sleeping with one hand over the edge of the bed

• Jim's driving (It's not him, it's me...most of the time)

• No life insurance

• Having an angry—or amorous—buck charge me and the dogs while on our morning walk

• The possibility I may never have a book traditionally published

Photo: stock.xchng

Today's question:

What scares you?

My greatest fears as a grandma

The role of grandma is supposed to be an easy one. Mom and Dad cover all the hard work – changing dirty diapers, teaching table etiquette, instilling a sense of right and wrong – leaving Grandma to do nothing but have fun with the little ones.

That’s how it’s supposed to be, right? But that’s not how it really is. At least not when you’re a grandma with the middle name of “Worrywart.” I worried (and continue to worry) endlessly as a mother, and you can bet your sweet bippy the fretting hasn’t let up just because I’ve moved on to motherhood’s second act.

Here for your amusement – or commiseration – are ...

My nine greatest fears as a grandma:

1. Bubby will love his other grandma more than he loves me.

2. I’ll always be a long-distance grandma, with no opportunity for my loved ones to drop in unexpectedly for dinner, to view my grandson’s sporting events or school programs, or to even be the backup plan when the little one is sick and Mom and Dad can’t wriggle out of work.

3. Something bad will befall Bubby.

4. Something bad will befall Bubby's parents.

5. Bubby will think I’m boring.

6. Bubby will think I’m weird.

7. Bubby will think I’m the greatest thing since LEGOs and garbage trucks and run away from home to live with me.

8. The one and only grandson I have now will always and forever be my one and only grandchild.

9. Bubby will be worn down – lose his vim, vigor, enthusiasm and endless curiosity – by the realities of life as he grows.

Bubby is just two years old at this point; I’m sure my fears and worries will become more concrete, more serious, more scary as he grows. For now, though, these nine are enough to keep me on my toes during the day, keep me awake on certain nights. For now, these nine frazzle me just fine.

Today's question:

How about you? Is “Worrywart” your middle name, too? What's your greatest fear -- as a grandma or otherwise?

"Balk, balk," says the chicken grandma

Related Posts with ThumbnailsI admit it: I'm a big ol' chicken. I'm not afraid of bugs or scary movies -- most of the time -- but I quake in my briefs at the prospect of being confronted with new situations, new places, new faces. I'm especially afraid of new situations and new places that include new faces to which I'm supposed to speak and seem intelligent ... or at least not come off like the timid, blithering numbskull I worry about being at such times.

To put it more succinctly, I'm afraid of social situations. I'm afraid of them (and often avoid them) because I don't see myself as someone good at small talk and definitely not as a confident and courageous speaker.

Surprisingly, I've recently learned that some folks -- folks I've known for years -- consider me anything but timid, and more like a capable and confident conversationalist.

Jim and I were invited to a friend's house for dinner Saturday night, a friend who used to be my boss, a friend who has seen me at my worst as I struggled through the teen years with my daughters, and at my best as I wrote some pretty darn good articles for the publications for which he served as editor. I thought the guy knew me fairly well.

But as we slurped our French Onion Soup (a culinary delight made by his wife), the conversation somehow turned to my fear of speaking to strangers -- a certain obstacle for a writer expected to conduct interviews on a regular basis. My friend/former editor stopped mid-slurp, surprised by my admission, and said, "I've never considered you timid. I'm surprised to hear you say that."

Wow! I was more than surprised that he thought I was anything but timid.

He's not alone, apparently. One of my four sisters, the one with whom I've spent the least amount of time throughout our childhood and adulthood but recently partnered with in a writing venture, has expressed again and again in the last six months that she thinks -- despite her previous perception of me as the "quiet one" --  that I'm actually the "mean one" of the sisters, the tough one that takes no bull, the "beeyotch" as she lovingly called me while expressing her confidence that I'd succeed in small claims court because of my beeyotchiness and way with words.

Wow again! Wow! Wow!

Really, guys, I truly am a chicken.

But I'm apparently a chicken who has mastered the cover up, the faking it til making it, the ability to feel the fear and do it anyway with the guarantee that -- as I often told my daughters who were scared of upcoming social situations or confrontations -- no one can see the fear rattling around inside your heart and head and thus have no idea how darn scared and lacking in confidence you may be.

The revelation elicited by the admissions from my friend and my sister has me wondering how Bubby will see me, how he'll view his grandma. As part of my inner circle, will he, like Jim and the girls, see the real grandma, the chicken grandma who's scared of strangers, of her inability to speak eloquently, of her paralyzing paranoia that something bad is bound to happen the moment she steps outside the confines of her home if she's required to open her mouth and speak while out in the real world?

Or will Bubby see me as a kooky and courageous grandma who's willing to scramble around the bouncy house regardless of who may see? Or bang on the piano with him regardless of who may hear? Or read him stories loud and proud with nary a concern about anyone else hearing her rumbling and grumbling and roaring like a monster if that's what the story demands?

I hope that's the grandma Bubby sees. I hope that's the grandma he loves, the grandma who makes him grin ear to ear by saying "screw it" to speaking eloquently (out of his earshot, of course) and simply settles comfortably into just being herself.

Not only do I hope that's the grandma Bubby sees, I hope that's the grandma I truly will be.

I just need to let go of the timid little wrinkled-and-too-old-to-be-so-darn-self-conscious me I see in the mirror, embrace that beeyotchiness others see, and be the grandma I'm meant to be.

So here goes.

Watch out, world!

Today's question:

What are you afraid of?

My answer: In addition to the above, I'm also afraid of revealing too much about myself ... which I think I just did!