This morning I took Ayden to McDonald's to play in the play area. He was by far the youngest child there, but the big kids were all being kind and respectful towards him (not always the case!!). At one point, he was sitting on my lap when a shriek of joy emerged from the tunnels and slides. Ayden's eyes widened and he said, "Tiger!" I had to hold back laughter as I corrected him, "No, it's not a tiger; the kids are just having fun."
Not long after that, I heard a similar joyful scream, immediately followed by Ayden's fearful cry. This time, he wasn't sitting safely on Mama's lap, but instead was encased in the echo-filled tubes where the screams originated. I climbed in and brought him safely out--my knees are thankful he was only just inside the entrance! I explained again that the kids were just having fun; he explained again that there was a tiger in there.
Soon the draw of the slide was too much for him and he wanted to go play again. I told him that if he got scared again, he could come down the slide and Mama would hug him. I fully expected to climb up there again, and just hoped that he wasn't too far in. He eventually emerged, and immediately ran to me, "Ayden scared!" But he didn't cry, he bravely came down on his own. After a reassuring hug, he was off again to face the scary scream-filled slide.
That is bravery at it's best. Despite his fear, he was brave enough to go in there alone.
The rest of the morning continued in a similar way. He rarely emerged without needing a reassuring hug, but always returned to face the tiger-like screams. My little Ayden, your Mama is quite proud of you right now!