“You’re gonna be okay,” my mother said. “One day, you’ll look back and feel silly about this.”

DEAR SEAN:

My first day of school is tomorrow. I’m at a new school and don’t know people and I’m scared. Mom says don’t be because everyone always likes me.

FIRST-GRADE ‘FRAIDY CAT

DEAR ‘FRAIDY CAT:

My first day of kindergarten scared me. I thought it would be an awful lot like going to kiddy prison.

Namely, because they had schedules for everything. Schedules for eating. Schedules for recess. Schedules for the commode.

I cried when my mother walked me to the door.

“Please don’t make me go,” said I.

“You’re gonna be fine,” she said. “And when you look back on this day, you’ll feel silly.”

She was right. I feel silly.

School was big fun. Our teacher played piano and sang. She read stories. She taught us to use the john on command. I made my first paper Valentine. I tasted my first swig of Elmer’s.

Try not to worry because you’ll have a lot of scary firsts in life, just like me.

For example: many years later, Mama drove me to my first date—sort of. I was twelve.

Her name was Anne. She had naturally curly hair, and I liked her more than hand-cut onion rings.

I rode in Mother’s car, nervous. I wore my Sunday best, and I’d used so much Alberto V05 I resembled a Cupie doll whose hair had been dipped in mayhaw jelly and lit on fire.

I was trembling when we arrived at Anne’s birthday party.

“You’re gonna be okay,” my mother said. “One day, you’ll look back and feel silly about this.”

Mama.

Then, I hit adulthood. I lived on my own. My mother got sick. Very sick. Doctors gave her some bleak news.

She wasted away into a bag of bones. She lost so much weight, her neck looked leaner than any woman’s ought to. Her cheeks got hollow, her eyes sunk backward.

I visited her in Atlanta. We ate breakfast together. Doctors were going to install a plastic port near her collarbone. She told me she was nervous.

I can count on one elbow how many times my mother has been nervous.

I hugged her, standing in the kitchen, and tried not to break her ribs. She felt about as light as a beachball. She cried. So did I.

“You’re a strong woman,” I told her. “One day, we’ll look back and feel silly about how scared we are now.”

That was long ago. My mother recovered. She lives a good life now. She takes walks with her dog, she sings while she dusts the house, she has the love of a good man.

But do you want to know something?

While I write this, I’m sitting in a parking lot. I’m about to speak to a large group of people. It might be the biggest crowd I’ve ever spoken to.

I won’t lie, my knees are shaky. It’s been awhile since I’ve felt this nervous.

I guess there are some things you never truly grow out of. Because before I wrote this, I called my mother.

Good luck at school today.

Your friend,
‘FRAIDY CAT SR.

22 comments

  1. Rebecca - August 10, 2017 1:56 pm

    Your writing is incredibly powerful. I came across your work for the first time just a few days ago (through a mention on Connie Schultz’s FB page), and am so grateful. Thank you for your amazing voice.

    Reply
  2. Marty from Alabama - August 10, 2017 2:10 pm

    Thank you, again. Today’s writing is a bit different, in a good way. It is on the light- hearted end of the spectrum. And we all need some of that sprinkled in a daily menu of life.
    Hope you speech to the large crowd went well. We all know it did.

    Reply
  3. Connie - August 10, 2017 2:15 pm

    You’re a good man. That’s all I can say today. I know your momma is proud.

    Reply
  4. Cathi Russell - August 10, 2017 2:32 pm

    Good one! I finished “The Other Side of the Bay” last night and it was wonderful. And yeah, he deserved what he got! Perfect justice!

    Reply
  5. Donna Holifield - August 10, 2017 2:51 pm

    Priceless!

    Reply
  6. Steve Welch - August 10, 2017 3:38 pm

    Sean:

    You may have me fooled, but I think you are a good man.

    Your internet friend.

    Steve

    Reply
  7. Marisa Franca @ All Our Way - August 10, 2017 3:41 pm

    love it!!

    Reply
  8. Trudy :) - August 10, 2017 3:53 pm

    We all have moments of unsettling fears, ‘fraidy cat moments, and such. Then later in house, days, or years we look back and smile or laugh. Sometimes another tells us, “You were so brave. Where’d you get the courage?” Courage—–when only you know you’re a scared ‘fraidy cat.
    Thank you, Sean for comforting those of us who have more “‘fraidy cat” moments than we’d like. Smiles and blessings to you.

    Reply
    • Trudy :) - August 10, 2017 4:29 pm

      The second sentence should be: “Then later in hours, day, or years we look back and smile or laugh.” Proof reading didn’t happen the first time. YEESH!!!

      Reply
    • Trudy :) - August 10, 2017 4:30 pm

      Please not a correction on the second sentence which should be HOURS not HOUSE. Proof reading didn’t work the first time. YEESH.

      Reply
  9. Judy - August 10, 2017 4:10 pm

    Love love love! ❤️

    Reply
  10. Marty Laska - August 10, 2017 4:23 pm

    Dear Sean
    Thank you for this lovely, caring and honest answer to a child’s fear. It came at a time in my life when I am making big, big changes. I am a counselor and help people with fear all the time, but I am afraid.
    This helped more than you will ever know.

    Reply
  11. Susan in Georgia - August 10, 2017 4:25 pm

    You made me laugh with today’s offering! I was a bonafide Fraidy Cat ’til I turned about sixty, then all of a sudden, I started trying out new adventures and have found so much joy in living unafraid 🙂

    Reply
  12. Pamela McEachern - August 10, 2017 4:53 pm

    Awesome wisdom and Love. Thank you

    Reply
  13. Jacque Critchfield - August 10, 2017 5:04 pm

    Why does Amazon list Sean of the South Vol 3 for $123 ?
    Signed
    Puzzled Reader

    Reply
  14. Jacque Critchfield - August 10, 2017 5:07 pm

    Why does Amazon list Sean of the South Vol 3 for $124
    Signed
    Puzzled Reader

    Reply
  15. Janis - August 10, 2017 6:26 pm

    I think a true story-teller reduces all of his/her stories to the one common element of “human experience” to which everyone can relate. You are a master story-teller.

    Reply
  16. Melodie - August 10, 2017 6:47 pm

    Some days will always be like the first day of school. I wish I had my mama to share those days with. I’m much older than you, and still miss my mama and still a fraidy-cat, at times.

    Thank you for your beautiful, daily writings.

    Reply
  17. Kathy Daum - August 11, 2017 12:32 am

    Good stuff. My daughter says if something’s scary or I don’t want to do it, that’s exactly what I need to do.

    Reply
  18. Jack Quanstrum - August 11, 2017 2:39 am

    Another great story Sean. I never know where you are going with your stories which is what keeps me captivated. I feel like I am right along with you for the ride, riding shot gun! I never know where the ending is going to be. But when you get me there it always a surprise and more importantly it sticks with me like peanut butter on soft white bread. Thank you for helping people. You most definitely teach us how to love our neighbor. You are a true to life good Samaritin. Shalom!

    Reply
  19. Paul - August 11, 2017 1:06 pm

    Psalm 56:3-4

    Reply
  20. Lucretia - August 18, 2017 6:58 am

    I hope I can remember . . .the wisdom of feeling silly up the road. . Thank you, Sean.

    Reply

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