I know Mr. Carter’s uncle didn’t mean to upset him. However, in my son’s mind he was certain he was heading into the abyss.

My 3 year old is very practical. This is not a kid who relies on imagination to create unknown worlds. He uses his playtime to recreate things he has seen or heard, and when you tell him something, that is exactly what he expects to happen.

So when Katie’s mother and brother were bringing Mr. Carter home from an errand, his uncle caught wind from Grandma that little man was afraid of car washes. Being a guy who assumed it was cool to rib another guy about such a fear, Uncle suggested to my son they’d be going to one before getting back to MiMi’s house. That sent my son into a panic that lasted over an hour. Try as his uncle might to reassure him he was only teasing, Mr. Carter understood his first mention of going to a car wash to be true and it wasn’t until I picked him up later in the day that he finally realized he would indeed not be traveling through the tunnel of wet terror.

July 4th reminds me of a similar reaction I had to my brother and his teasing. I am 8 years younger than he is, so when I was in elementary school he was old enough to manipulate his naive younger sister. The year of America’s bicentennial, the television was covered with firework celebrations, and July 4th fell on a Sunday. My brother’s birthday is on the 3rd and since it was on Saturday, many of the events occurred that day and were broadcast nationwide.

I was too young to really understand all that was going on, so he pointed to the television and let me know that the country was celebrating his birthday. Believing that to be true I went and cried to my mother, asking why America didn’t care about my birthday in March and how unfair it was I didn’t get the same accolades that Mike was receiving. Pleased with his accomplishment, my brother left it to Millie Pete to reassure me I was not being left out.

Trust comes so naturally to all of us when we first arrive in this world. I assume it’s because without it we wouldn’t survive, since an immobile newborn has to rely on its guardian to feed and shelter it. At what age do we lose the assumption people will take care of us, and flip it to the belief no one will? As I watch my son, it makes me realize how guarded I’ve become and am nowhere near the level of openness to and confidence in others he has. I do believe in self-reliance as an adult, but I also now realize that shouldn’t be shrouded in fear and distrust.

Next week, my brother will inevitably look at me and point to the television during a fireworks broadcast, as he does every year, to remind me of my once-blind trust in him. Instead of rolling my eyes in irritation, I will instead embrace that quality I once possessed and figure out a way to recapture it.

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