Fire Proof

By Beck

The Baby and I have lots of weird, preschooler-sized adventures during the day. For example, this week, we (and ten other kids from her playgroup) went to the fire station and met Sparky The Giant Bipedal Fire Dog and sat in the big loud fire truck. Half of the kids were crying hysterically – Huge Bipedal Fire Dogs! Loud Fire Trucks! – and I was congratulating myself on my Super Brave Baby when I realized that she was sobbing frantically and looking around for me.


Then they gave her a plastic fire hat and all was forgiven. “I am going to be a fireman for Halloween!” she told me on the walk home, cheerfully checking out the contents of her big fire station loot bag. And I realized how cheerful I was about the whole thing – oh sure, she got a little bit weepy there for a while but overall it was a grand experience, and she had lots of fun showing her siblings how to Stop, Drop and Roll later on.

“This is for when you are on fire, SO LISTEN,” she told them. She’ll make a dandy fire fighter.

Five million years ago, I took the then-small Girl to a bookstore where Winnie The Pooh was going to make an appearance. We were certain that this was going to be a Good Time, so we dressed her up and brought the camera and took pictures of her happily playing, unsuspecting that the giant terror was nearly upon her. And then we had to take her the heck out of there, of course (and did we capture that on film? You betcha.), and I beat myself up for this for YEARS. What was I thinking? When I was first a mother, I was a bit intense. Everything I did mattered. Those pictures of her weeping in her orange overalls proved that I was a bad mother, that I was lacking some essential mothering brain.

Lighten up, Past Self.

One glance at my steady, bemused oldest child, and it’s easy to tell that she’s reasonably unscarred from my bumbleheaded, well-intentioned mothering. If she has terrifying nightmares of a mute and huge Winnie The Pooh lumbering across the room towards her, she’s never let on. And the Baby told her grandmother very cheerfully later that day that she saw a very loud fire truck and “I screamed and screamed, Grandma, and then they gave me a firehat!”. Oh, and she high-fived the creepy fire dog, too.

When I nearly died that time, I felt tremendously comforted when my mother finally arrived at the hospital – not that I thought she could save me, mind you, but just comforted on some level that’s hard to articulate. And that maternal comfort is what I now carry with me, my inadequate self, terrifyingly enough, what I gave The Baby as I lifted her weeping from the firetruck’s cab – not the prevention of pain or fear, but the constancy of my love, the constancy of me.

Beck blogs at Frog And Toad Are Still Friends.

22 Responses to Fire Proof
  1. Julia
    October 9, 2008 | 8:28 am

    Oh, I was so afraid you were about to blog about that heinous-looking Kirk Cameron movie! 🙂 I’m so glad that it was something more thoughtful and nuanced.

  2. Megan
    October 9, 2008 | 8:28 am

    Yes ma’am! That’s what I keep reminding myself, too. That someday, when my kids are off on their own and something happens to upset or scare me, they’ll pick up the phone and call me and just the sound of my voice will immediately make ’em feel safer and calmer.

  3. Courtney
    October 9, 2008 | 9:25 am

    OMG do i know how you feel. My kids are 2 and 3 and up until this past March we had avoided coustum covered humans all together. I am terrified because i had seen how other kids reacted to Santa, Easter Bunny, and other figures an di didnt want that to be my kids. In March we went to DIsney as a family and i must say my kids did well as long as the large Mickey Mouse and Goofy ect stayed far away lol. Mama really can do miracles.

  4. LoriD
    October 9, 2008 | 9:44 am

    My 5-year-old is terrified of dogs. Really terrified. I hope when he grows out of it (as everyone advises he will) that he carries with him the memory that I respected his fear and helped him through it.

  5. nomotherearth
    October 9, 2008 | 9:53 am

    You read my post about loathing people dressed up in “mascot” costumes, right? I’m an ADULT (theoretically), and I can’t handle them. Why we think – and I do think – that kids will love them, I don’t know.

  6. Mom24
    October 9, 2008 | 11:41 am

    I need to work on the ‘lighten up past self’. Thanks for the reminder…and the smile.

  7. SubspaceBeacon
    October 9, 2008 | 12:02 pm

    I’m 35 and still get freaked by Winnie The Pooh. Why does Winnie never get any smarter?

    Why no personal growth during your 80 year life span, Mr. The Pooh? Huh?

    Perhaps my present self should lighten up? Yes.

  8. Nowheymama
    October 9, 2008 | 12:05 pm

    I think “Lighten up, *Present* Self,” applies to me too, sometimes.

  9. Kelly
    October 9, 2008 | 12:42 pm

    The comfort of a mother’s presence is transcendent. I still remember the feeling that all was right with the world again when my Mom would come in to kiss me in my bed after she and my Dad had been out for the night.

  10. Heidi
    October 9, 2008 | 2:14 pm

    Great post! I feel better now too!

  11. Kathryn
    October 9, 2008 | 4:39 pm

    And that is what it is all about. So simple, and yet the best thing there is. A mother’s love.
    Beautiful, Beck.

  12. Omaha Mama
    October 9, 2008 | 5:30 pm

    It makes ME feel good (very selfishly so) that I can comfort my children. That they find me comforting. I am happy to be that for someone. The way that my mother was for me.

  13. Janice (5 Minutes for Mom)
    October 9, 2008 | 7:08 pm

    Oh the power of a mom’s comforting hug. Priceless for sure.

    Isn’t it true how we stress like crazy over those first mothering years!

  14. PastormacsAnn
    October 9, 2008 | 7:38 pm

    “not the prevention of pain or fear, but the constancy of my love, the constancy of me.”

    Lovely. Truly.

  15. All Rileyed Up
    October 10, 2008 | 12:33 am

    Oh, I just finished up a very rough night. I really needed this post. Thanks. 🙂

  16. womaninawindow
    October 10, 2008 | 9:23 am

    Um, wondering if she’s a fast learner? Screaming=fire hat. Wonder what louder and longer screaming might get?

    You rock, my dear. Always love reading you, even from another country.

  17. janet
    October 10, 2008 | 10:54 am

    I took E. to see Dora and Diego at homecoming the other weekend because, hello, biggest fan ever! Then she shrieked and hid behind my legs and would only wave at them when they were so far away they resembled tiny, tabletop caricatures.

  18. Alison
    October 10, 2008 | 5:39 pm

    That last line–so true. Surely it’s enough.

  19. Jennifer
    October 11, 2008 | 12:22 am

    Whenever I’m really sick – with a fever or something like that, because I’ve never ALMOST DIED – I always end up crying at some point because “I just want my mom.”
    But she lives 2 1/2 hours away and she’s a nurse, so I am mostly crying because “I want my mom BUT I don’t want to call her because then she’ll come and miss work and maybe get in trouble AND be exhausted.”

    I know that because I AM a mom and I know:
    1. she’d come, because that is what moms do,
    2. yes, it’s exhausting and stressful, no matter how old your kids are. 🙂

    But now I’m in this weird middle thing where I’m feeling both protective of my mother AND my kids, their time, their feelings, their stress levels.

    Thank goodness for husbands. 🙂

  20. chelle
    October 15, 2008 | 1:08 pm

    Maternal comfort … you amaze me every post … every post. Pressure much?

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