Monday, June 6, 2011

Fears


When I was a little girl one of my favorite things was to go to work with my dad, which meant walking over to the Eyring Science Center at BYU with him, spending an hour or two drawing on the chalkboards in his classroom, maybe having a look at his model of a salt crystal, reading some of the e.e. cummings poems taped to his wall, and then getting him to take me to see all the best parts of the building: the giant ground sloth skeleton, the wave machine, the anechoic chamber, and of course, the top of the Foucoult Pendulum.

Visitors to the building can observe the pendulum as it swings on the ground floor, but if you look up, you can see the long wire going up through all four stories to the top floor.  This is where my dad would take me so I could look down the long, long hole to see the pendulum way below.  It made me nervous to peer down through all that space (unprotected by a railing or anything) but I loved it anyway.  I just tried my very hardest not to think about falling.

Twenty years later, my kids are enjoying the same things in the ESC, thanks to my mom, who takes them on field trips there when they stay with her.  They love all the same things I loved (although the ground sloth skeleton has somehow grown skin since then, and it's much less cool and scary than it used to be).  Sebby, especially, has been fascinated with:
a. the telescope, and its filter to allow you to look at the sun without burning your eyes
b. the "pendulum hole"

I suspect his fascination stems partly from the fact that both those things scare him a little.  But he deals with it so differently than I would.  Instead of trying not to think about it, he builds things like this:

The Eyring Science Center (note empty column where the pendulum hangs)

Top view, looking down into the pendulum pit.  "Do you know what that triangle down there is, Mommy?  A person!  Someone who fell down the hole!"
And, whenever he runs down a hill, he pauses at the top for a moment, rocks forward on his toes, and then:
"Help!  Help!  Oh no, I've fallen down the pendulum hole!  Help!  Fooooooour stoooooooories doooooown!"

It's better than being immobilized by his fear, I guess.  Or being scared of the Pixar Lamp like he used to be.  However it's not much help to me, whose formerly dormant fear of heights has returned on behalf of my children.  It's MUCH worse seeing them teeter atop various perches and craters, and having to act like I'm not terrified they'll fall, than it ever was to teeter atop those things myself!  (I wonder what my Dad, World Champion Worrier, went through every time I peered down that pendulum hole?)

Still, I have to admit it's funny.  "Oh help, foooooooour stoooooooories dooooooown . . . .! "

2 comments:

  1. Perhaps I will start to do this. I have a hill in back I could run down, and don't particularly care if the neighbors hear me. There are so many things I could shout, starting with Seb's very essential one. So many. Maybe I'll do Alzheimer's second. And being audited third. Then floods, and sharks, and airplanes falling from the sky - either with me in or under - that could be two. Or - but there are so many holes to fall through -

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  2. Marilyn, you are such a good writer! It is really fun to read your musings...
    hello from your cousin!
    p.s. Congrats on the new baby!

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