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Despite my efforts and her fantastic Halloween costume, Ammie refused to go trick or treating this year. I told about all of the candy and fun she'd miss out on and Ryan called from work to try to convince her to go.
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"Mom, I just think I might see one of those scary things from my pumpkin book," she's said and I couldn't argue with that. I put her down for a nap and resignedly texted the friend we were supposed to meet up with that we weren't coming.
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I'd been looking forward to this all month. We were going to trick or treat through the art galleries on Santa Fe's Canyon Road. I was going to finally see all of the beautiful spaces I haven't been able to yet. I was going to get some desperately needed social time with really the only friend I have here so far. I sulked around after laying her down and then cleaned house.
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Later that night, we had some neighbors over for dinner and one of them shared a story about being terrified of a specific house growing up, and how one year, her father forced her up to the front door. "I think I hated Halloween until my twenties after that," she laughed.
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As I was loading the dishwasher after everyone had left, I thought about Megan’s story. I considered how amazing it was that not only was Ammie able to articulate why she didn’t want to go out this Halloween, but she was able tell me that she didn’t want to go at all. She was able to name her fear and express her needs in ways that I still struggle to on a regular basis.
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I went into her room and thanked her for telling me that she didn’t want to go trick or treating. I told her that I was proud of her for sticking with what she needed even when Ryan and I tried to change her mind. She smiled and responded with a “Goodnight, mom.”
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I’ve said this before, but kids are wise. They are intuitive. They know what they need, even when they can’t articulate it. But when they can, it’s my job as a parent to pay attention. I know that some folks my read my story and think to themselves that I shouldn’t have let my daughter decide what we did Thursday afternoon. Some folks will think that I should have encouraged her to face her fears. Here’s the thing, there are so many people, most of us I would say, who have stories like Megan’s. People who were forced to do things that scared them, who were cajoled into doubting their instincts, doubting themselves.
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My daughter felt free enough to tell me what she needed, confident that I would respond to her. I affirmed her sense of self by not making her do something she didn’t want to do. I think when the time comes for her to “face” her fears, she’s going to be just fine.

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