Some fears are inborn. Some fears are learned. Some fears are a combination of the two: An innate sense given to us for our protection combined with seeing others frightened of the same thing. And regardless of where it came from, most Jeep Kids sooner or later will experience some fear of Jeeping – yes, even born Jeepers.
When Peanut was a baby, as long as she was well fed, she never got scared or fussy over anything we put her through. (Except for the time she was sound asleep while Skot was trying to make it up Rocker Knocker in Moab without a winch. A jolt woke her up and she started crying. Then she fell right back to sleep.) Her young toddler years were much the same. Of course we get her out for most hard obstacles, but much of the bumpy stuff isn’t difficult enough to warrant getting out. Even now, at age three, not much frightens our little Peanut – except rough knocks, such as going down a large boulder and the bumper hits hard, or getting hung up on the belly pan or a differential and the Jeep slams to a halt.
We began to notice this new fear when we attended the Set Them Free off-road event in June. Our first trail that weekend was Iron Chest, where the first quarter mile is a large, ever shifting boulder field.
At first, Peanut appeared a little unnerved, but overall OK with the sometimes violent tossing of the Jeep. But within a few minutes, she became fussy and fretful, then tears of fright streamed down her little cheeks. I got out and walked with her for the rest of the boulder field.
On the way back down, I got an idea. One of Peanut’s favorite books is Dr. Seuss’ One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. I remembered a part of the book, one that Peanut knows by heart. So as we neared the boulder field once again, I gave her fair warning. “Here it comes, it’s gonna get bumpy! Ready, baby? Just like a fair ride! Whoo-Hoo!” Then I started reciting,
“Bump! Bump! Bump! Did you ever ride a Wump? We have a Wump with just one hump. But we know a man called Mr. Gump. Mr. Gump has a seven-hump Wump. So… if you like to go Bump! Bump! just jump on the hump of the Wump of Gump!”
And, it worked! She smiled, laughed, and sang her way down the rocks. The very next trail we did that weekend, Grizzly Lake, gave us another chance to work with her fears. From then on, we’ve made sure that, as far as it’s up to us, we let her know ahead of time when we’re in for some hard knocks. We try to prepare her, but we don’t try to scare her even more! Instead, we try to make it sound fun – like a fair ride, which she loves. And when we aren’t able to foresee a rough hit, we acknowledge her fears and we don’t put them down as silly. Then we go through the poem and have some fun.
So far, it’s worked like a charm. What fears have your Jeep Kids experienced? In ways have you dealt with them? What’s worked, and what hasn’t?