Thursday, May 8, 2008


No, not Chuck, or even Brian, but a real copperhead.

I wrote about it in my Commercial Appeal column today.

Because I Said So: Child's indoor fears disappear outdoors
By Stacey Greenberg

How can I get my 6-year-old to translate his confidence in the wild to the confines of his own home?

Satchel could probably survive alone in the woods for a week (OK, at least an hour or two), but he's too scared to go to the bathroom alone.

"Will you please go to the restroom with me?" Satchel asks me at least once a day -- more often on the weekends.

His squirmy movements mean, "HURRY! I'VE HELD IT AS LONG AS I POSSIBLY CAN."

"Let's go," I say as I head toward the bathroom.

It doesn't matter if it is night or day. It doesn't matter that he's tall enough to turn on all of the light switches. And it doesn't matter that our two very protective dogs sleep just a few feet away from the bathroom door.

"What are you so afraid of?" I ask for the millionth time.

His answers vary from "Chucky" to zombies to roaches. However, once we get outdoors, Satchel's imaginary fears dissipate.

We recently invited several friends of Satchel and his brother, Jiro, to join us on our weekly hike through Overton Park's Old Forest. Satchel was the leader and expertly navigated the trails.

"This way!" he would say confidently at each fork in the road.

"Look out for this," he said pointing to a furry poison ivy root. "Remember, poison ivy has three leaves."

Satchel was the first one to climb every tree and swing from every low-hanging vine.

"Check out this bug, guys!" he would holler every so often.

As I rounded a bend, trying to keep up with our fearless leader, I saw all the boys standing in a circle while Jack repeatedly yelled, "SNAKE!"

I stopped in my tracks.

Much to everyone's amazement, Satchel calmly picked up a long stick in order to gently move the snake off of the trail back to the safety of the forest floor like he has seen his dad do in the past.

Just then, my husband, Warren, caught up to us. "Satchel, stop!" he ordered. "That's a poisonous snake."


"Just keep going," Warren instructed. Satchel and the rest of the boys calmly and slowly walked away, as did Warren and I. No one was hurt and the snake was very happy to see us go.

Once we were free of danger, the boys were ecstatic.

"We saw a snake!" they yelped at one another.

Not once had we ever seen a poisonous snake on the trails. (Of course it happens on the day that seven sets of parents entrust their children to me!)

"What kind of snake was that again?" Satchel keeps asking.

"A copperhead," I say.

"Wasn't that cool?" he asks excitedly.

"Um, yeah ...very cool," I say. "Honey, tell me why you aren't scared of a poisonous snake, but you are scared to go to the bathroom in your own house by yourself."

I could tell he was really thinking about my question. Finally, we're going to get to the bottom of this, I thought.

He looked at me and took a deep breath.

"Because Daddy makes me watch scary movies on TV."


Naomi Van Tol said...

Your title made me remember this song and now it's stuck in my head! Noooo...

Maybe I should teach it to your kids, to punish you for making them watch all those scary movies.