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Comfort Zone by Noreen Heffernan

Ever notice how kids never want anything to end? If a movie finishes, they want it again. If they are done with their snack, they want more. If you are playing a game with them, they want to do it over and over again. One book is never enough. Nobody, especially children enjoy the end of things. To them, it means their fun has stopped. Perhaps it is because of change. Change is difficult for anyone. And the ending of something usually means that something is changing. For kids, it is hard to swallow, especially if it is something they like or if it something consistent that they found comfort in. Think about babies. They usually thrive when they know what is coming. No wonder they never want to get rid of their binky. It could be the reason they get sleepy when they have their bath every night. The ritual is sometimes more than the act itself; and when that ritual ends, adjustments must be made.

I think everyone has a hard time with change. I think it is because the status quo is our comfort zone. Change is uncomfortable. Getting rid of that binky for a child, is like looking for a new job as an adult. It makes us uncomfortable. Leaving our job, moving somewhere different, having a baby, a death in the family; it all means that there will be new rituals where we will be forced to reside outside our comfort zone for a little while. It takes time to adjust to that.

But it isn’t the end, remember.

It is the beginning of something else.

I try to tell my daughter that. She is resistant to change. She is hesitant to try new things, especially new foods or things that may scare her, like a high slide or walking backwards on the balance beam at gymnastics. She resides in her comfort zone. At times I think, well, she is five and she will get there. Other times I think it is my job to help her see how pushing yourself a little outside of your comfort zone is where the magic happens. I try to keep the balance of it because I don’t want to force extra fears on her. And I don’t want a bad experience to affect her future. It is such a fine line. Last weekend she went to a jungle gym place and wouldn’t try to go down the big slides. I get it, they are high. But, nobody forced her and she never tried it. I thought about how important it is for our children to feel confident in themselves that they can do new things and take chances.

As Dr. Seuss wrote:

“I'm afraid that some times you'll play lonely games too. Games you can't win 'cause you'll play against you………”

― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You'll Go!

I don’t want herself to stand in her own way.

The next day, we went to the library. My daughter is extremely scared of the Muppets. That movie, “Muppets Most Wanted,” came out a year ago, maybe? We took her to see it and had to leave in the middle. The bad Kermit look-alike Constantine has affected our house countless time with his ugly black mole. I despise that frog. If I could get my swollen hands around his neck, what I would do!!!! Ha!

Well, she wanted to get the Lion King which is her favorite movie right now, but a Muppet movie was sticking out of the shelf and she froze. She wouldn’t take a step forward. I told her that if she wanted that movie, she had to face her fear and walk over and get it. There is nothing to be afraid of. I was right there but I wasn’t going to get it for her. She stood there for 15 minutes with little tears in her eyes and I almost gave in. But, I said, “You have to face your fears.” Maybe she wouldn’t do it with the big slide, but she will do it now. She did. And she was so happy. She couldn’t wait to tell daddy when she got home. “I faced my fears Dad.”

“Kid, you'll move mountains.” ― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You'll Go!

That is the moment I knew what I did was right, because she was soooo proud of herself.

I said to her when we were leaving the library, “sometimes you have to take risks in life, but they usually have the greatest rewards.” She smiled and agreed. “And sometimes they don’t. But at least you know for certainty. And doesn’t it feel good to hold that movie.” YES! Yes, sometimes we have to close our eyes, take a deep breath, and go for what we want. It might make us uncomfortable, it might mean things are changing, but in the end it could be the place where magic happens.

On Monday at our town library, a little magic happened. And I hope it is a stepping stone to new beginnings.

After all, Dr. Seuss was right when he wrote:

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...” ― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You'll Go!

~Noreen Heffernan,Writer, MA in Public and Corporate Communications, Certified in PR Writer, Growing Ladies


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