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Overcoming fear

I had to admire a grandfather who was out at a local birding site I was visiting today.

Poppy was there with his young, 6ish granddaughter, to look at the birds and see the sights.

As you enter the site there is a big sign advising people that they are in alligator territory and telling them not to leave the boardwalk.  For this little girl alligators are the stuff of nightmares and the fact that the boardwalk was a good 3 feet over the water was not enough to calm the girl’s fears. (We all know that monsters are not daunted by a mere 3 feet, they can leap out of the water.) I mentioned that I had hardly ever seen the alligator on all my visits there (true) and Poppy was able to coax the girl onto the boardwalk that extended out over the water.

The birding site is over a large, I’m guessing 20+ acre, brackish pond that is popular with all sorts of wading birds, black birds of all types, ducks, grebes, turtles, snakes, and of course the alligator. Today was a quiet day there. I saw a few American Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Cormorants, Anhingas, a Pied Billed Grebe (one of my favorite wild birds), some Brown Pelicans, a turtle but thankfully, no Alligator. I wanted to have the little girl enjoy her day and overcoming the fear of walking into Alligator country was enough to conquer for one day.

I commend the grandfather because he was calm with her, was willing to let her turn back but kindly urged her on, and gave comfort and encouragement to her when she did go on. I walked with them till we reached one of the turn outs where I left them and gave them space to walk to the end of the viewing platform. When I left, Poppy and the little girl were still at the end of the boardwalk, with the little girl leaning comfortably into her Poppy’s arms, pointing out birds to each other. Way to go Poppy. We all need strong arms to lean on sometimes as we move through our fears.

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