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Monday, July 7, 2008

Magic Number 5


I love thunderstorms, and the later they come in the evening the better! I have spent the past twenty something years in a hot dessert area where 100 degree days is a good part of the year and these hot days can be better used to fry eggs on our pavements. Any sign of a thunderstorm is a welcome sprinkle of life not to mention a water bill saving at the end of the month. Water is expensive in hot areas and sometimes worth more than the $4/gallon gas. But when I was a little boy, I remember being MORE afraid of the THUNDER than the LIGHTENING!!! What's up with that?! I guess it's because it comes suddenly without a moment's notice. Anyone else used to be afraid of the Big, Bad, Boom??!!! Or the one eye sharp teeth monster in the closet?? The giant creature with tentacles underneath our beds, headless and legless ghost hovering down the midnight hallway while you try to get a cup of milk, weird noises calling your name from the pond in the backyard, and gross creatures coming out of the TV. How's that for some childhood memories?

My real childhood fear was water, and I wouldn't even go near it. It included swimming pools, lakes, and the beach. It makes my childhood life a lot harder considering my house was right next to the beach. You can say, I lived in fear growing up so close to a big mass of water. After school the neighborhood kids or my classmates would spend time on the beach swimming and sometimes just hanging out. They would clown around, collect sea shells, fish for groupers, watch the sunsets or simply enjoy the fresh ocean air. Burnt fish or sometimes marshmallows was a common smell everyday when the sun head south. Pollution was not a real problem back then as there were hardly any factories in our small town and so the water was considered to be crystal clean. Due to the lack of human interference with the environment, I even heard some of my friends were able to swim with the dolphins given the cleanliness of the water.

I was only 5 years old and my mom told me a real life story of her own about one of her childhood neighborhood friends. She was her neighbor and classmate. They spent a lot time everday together whether it was walking to school, playing together during recess, walking home after school or even copying each other's homework at night. They were like sisters and inseparable. They traded shirts to wear and call each other's mom, Mama! Every year, during the month of May, as a tradition they would celebrate the dragon boat festival. That year was no different. Several of the neighborhood familes got together and headed out to the beach for a fun filled time of good memories.

A short 10 minutes walk later, they arrived at the beach. The beach was already filled with people fighting for good spots. The boats and all the grills were all out in force. At the backdrop, you could hear the ocean waves followed by crackling thundering fireworks. The dragon boats are all out on the vast ocean ready for their traditional race across the horizon. The real festivities started as nightfall approaches. Family members would gather together and as the sun set, there would even be a countdown to usher the moon to rise signaling the real festivities to start. At the very moment the sun set completly into the horizon, the glowing dim sky was suddenly painted by colorful fireworks. The sky would be so filled with fireworks that you wouldn't even tell the difference between the stars or fireworks. On this beautiful night, my mom's childhood friend never came back after a swim in the ocean. She drown tragically and without reasons. Her body was never recovered and some said her leg might have got caught by a boat's motor and as the boat started so did her body begin to disintegrate by the motor blades. It was a complete shock to have this happen on such a festive day. The little beach was even close down for a whole month hoping the rescuers to recover at least her body. They never did.

My little 5 year old mind was biologically set or program after this story. I didn't set foot close to any bodies of water until I became an adult. As for my little son, he's got another set of fears. He started out with water, height, gross things like his own poop in his bathwater and fireworks. He used to freak out if he had an accident of the big one while taking a bath in the bathtub. He would cry and scream hysterically. It's funny for us adults to witness but for him, his heart was beating so hard that it seem ready to jump out of his body at any time. Another similar experience we had was when we took him out to see fireworks during his second July 4th. He didn't seem to mind at first but once those booming sound started making its way in to his ear drums, he began to react as if a bomb is about to go off. He would struggle for his life and beg us to take him away. Earlier in the year while still in Asia, we celebrated the new year and grandpa didn't know this fear of his little grandson. He thought it will be great to take his cute little adorable grandson out to see the fireworks.
The little grandson didn't know any better and followed along. Right when the fireworks exploded in to the sky, so did our little guy. Grandpa didn't know what to do and had no choice but to take him home immediately. Later on, I had a little conversation with him and asked him why is he afraid of fireworks. Other kids simply embrace the colorful sparklings across the litted sky. He didn't really give me a reason besides the obvious of it being loud. The month of June approaches, out of no where, he came to tell me that daddy,
"once I turn 5, I will not be scared of fireworks". I told him, that's great! but why 5 years old? He said 5 years old means I am grown up and I won't be afraid anymore. O..also daddy, don't forget my birthday is in August and it's after July 4th. He is a sneaky little guy and would do anything to avoid seeing fireworks.

Just like anything, my fear of water had a reason and that reason was my mother's childhood story. For my son, the fear of firework was a puzzling one until we discovered a drawing that he made a while back. The drawing was a village of people running away from things that was falling from the sky. It looked like a village being bomb and people were running for their lives. Somehow he may caught some images in this rich media world and transcended it to fear. Well, I guess we have to wait to see whether if his fear will go away once he turns 5 or 18 like I did.

20 comments:

Laurie said...

Wow, very heart felt story about your mom and her childhood friend. It kept me reading, engrossed and also sad.
I too love thunder storms and yes I love them late at night, but my husband doesn't since he has to get up at 4:30 a.m. every morning for work.
Our two year old son loves to watch the lighting so bad, but the thunder still scares him quite a bit.

Moon Glow said...

I agree with your reader and not just on this post but for the stories I have read so far in your blog. They are all touching and engrossing. Great job Dad!

Sarah said...

I fear water myself as well. I almost drown when I was 7 when a neighborhood meanie push my in to a stream. I was lucky that my big brother was around and saved me. This story sure brought back that memory vividly.

Maryjo said...

This is just another wonderful story. I had to overcome the fear of height and for years I won't step foot in to a plane. Things have change since I have learn to face it. I just went sky diving!

Reina said...

Kids seem to outgrow fear very quuickly once they goes to school. Just wait a bit and pretty soon, you can't stop him from doing dangerous things! :P I am a mama of 3 full grown boy but they were as scare and shy as little kittens when they were little boys.

K said...

There is always something to fear. I fear fear itself.

Pamela J said...

Swimming is a big thing in our household especially during summer time. I can't imagine being afraid of water. My son have a weird fear. He is fear of boredom! :P

Jennifer Post said...

Great reflections of your childhood here. Your writing is always captivating. Once you read the first sentence, it keeps you moving and going until the very last dot. In deed another very moving story.

Jackie said...

Made me recall my own childhood fears. I was terrified of stepping onto escalators. Weird, I know. Of course I outgrew it but you really don't ever forget.

Gambi said...

Heart warming as always. Your stories paint great childhood pictures in the world of imagination.

kim said...

I am from the midwest and today I got up early due to a severe thunderstorm. I remember I used to be afraid of them when I was a little girl and now it's my turn to comfort my little girl when the thunder hits. Great post by the way.

Bibo said...

My childhood fear was clowns. I hated them especially when they laugh. The laughter is simply eerie.

ramblinggypsy.com said...

I love thunderstorms too! Thanks for sharing your story.

Cassandra Rae said...

I haven't gone to see fireworks in a number of years. I think they are beautiful and intriguing to watch. At the same time, I don't like that they mimic bombs. I do not believe that war, guns, bombs, violence is ever the answer and I don't want to celebrate them. On the flip side, I could look at fireworks as a symbol for NOT using bombs here in our home. I guess it's all how we look at it...

{thanks for stopping by my blog}

Pam Archer said...

I think we have a lot of stories in common. My mother was afraid of water, though she loved to swim. She instilled a fear of the water in me, too. I love to swim and play in the water, but I don't like deep water and I won't venture far out into the ocean.

That is a sad story about your mother's friend. What a terrible thing to happen.

Your son sounds adorable!

Thanks for stopping by my blog. It led me to yours, which I will mark and blogroll.

rindawriter said...

Thanks for your kind comment on my rindawriter blog!

I thought you would also enjoy my friend, Don Tate's, blog as he is a dad also with a younger one! He illustrates books for children and his blog is always interesting and fun to read.

Liara Covert said...

The number five stands out as a lucky number for me. One doesn't always realize why a particular number resonates, but good feelings are associated with experiences when we choose this path. I love the stamp images and the intimacy of your stories.

christyhulsey said...

Thunderstorms are my fave. Great post. Thanks for dropping by my blog!

Peter said...

Milton,
Thanks for stopping by my blog.

Your blog looks very cool and professional.

Enjoy,
Peter

kidicarus333 said...

I love the number 5 painting. It reminds me of that Sesame Street 70's -lookin' video following the pinball around with the , 1 2 3 4-5, 6 7 8 9-10, 11, twe-e-eeelve! Anyone else remember that?