Life is scary and confusing for a 7-year-old ... and his parents.
There comes a time in every man's life when they have to face their fears. That time was last week for my 7-year-old boy Finn. Now being only 7 means he's caught in that middle ground of fear. You know the one, where you're essentially scared of nothing ... but also everything. He has nothing to fear because he never really leaves our side but on the odd occasion that he does ... it's all "arrgh" and "help!"
These occasions sometimes happen when he's dreaming. In the middle of the night he'll run into our bedroom. "Mum, dad, I just had a really bad dream!"
To which I reply "Okay, well, there's nothing I can do about it. It's done now ... so that's more of a hindsight situation. Go back to bed."
"But what if it happens again?"
"It won't. You can never have the same dream twice," I reply, plucking some illogical fact out of my 3am mind.
He came in the other night and told us he was stuck in his dream and couldn't get out of it. I told him that he definitely wasn't "stuck" in his dream because he was wide awake and standing in our room.
"You're not in a dream now!" I said.
"None of us are, thanks to you!" said his mother.
I have to admit some of this recent behaviour could be due to his new obsession with Doctor Who. Yes, that's right, I let my 7-year-old boy watch Doctor Who. He loves it. He's watched all of the David Tennant episodes. I thought he might get freaked out by the monsters but no, according to Finn and this is a direct quote ... "A lot of them aren't real."
A giant squid washed up on the Marlborough coast the other day. I showed Finn a picture and that really freaked him out. He went on to tell me that that was the only creature he truly feared.
"Well, that's good to know," I said. "How would you like to see one face- to-face?"
I told him how important it was to face your fears and how this would coincide nicely with our trip to Wellington. Te Papa has a giant squid frozen in some sort of resin. It's about 4m long and it's a hideous but wonderful sight.
Finn was not keen at all to see it but I dragged him along and made him look at it. I had a good chat to my son about the wonders of the natural world. I showed him the squid's giant beak and explained to him how it caught its prey. His new knowledge seemed to shake off his fear.
"I'm not scared so much now, dad."
"Good. See, that's what knowledge does," I replied, "The more we learn, the less we fear."
That night, however, he woke us up again at 3am ...
"I really wish you hadn't told me about the giant beak," he said, "That's really, really freaky!"