Wrangling a Fish and Developing Inhibition

by Erica Layne on April 30, 2012

Please forgive the semi-disturbing photo, but last Saturday I got to watch something special—a two-year-old’s lack of inhibition.

We were visiting a rinky-dink lake about an hour from our home when two kids walked up to us to show off their catch. My boys were intrigued by the huge fish, but while one of them was willing to give the fish a couple of curious pokes, the other grabbed that big guy with both hands, hefted it up, looked his daddy straight in the eye and said, “Picture.” (His first requested photo op!)

I sat on a nearby rock soaking in his complete and carefree abandon. I wondered when my older son had developed enough inhibition to stand at a safe distance while his younger brother wrangled the big fish.

I thought of how life has a way of beating inhibition into us.

We start as fearless, tiny children who would toddle off a six-foot playground structure if not closely watched. And somehow we become adults who can’t get up the courage to ask for a raise . . . or give consistent consequences to a boundary-pushing child . . . or dive head first into a swimming pool, for that matter!

The interesting thing is that as parents, we get to watch the process unfold in our children. It makes me want to hold on tight to my boys and keep them at this age forever. They have so few reservations. They don’t hold back with their emotions; toddler tantrums attest to that! They also have no reason in the world to hold back love and affection.

But I know that only a year ago, my older son would not have hesitated to pick that slippery fish up. I’m nervous to watch their reservations increase in number. I know I can’t stop it from happening, ever so slowly. All I can do is enjoy the now.

And this summer, I am diving head first into a pool! (Someone hold me to it!) 

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Brenda @Triple Braided April 30, 2012 at 11:59 pm

What a great story and great illustration of how we learn to fear in life. Oh how I wish I was your two year old!!
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Erica {let why lead} May 1, 2012 at 4:41 am

I’ll second you there! Thanks, Brenda!

Ashley Ditto May 1, 2012 at 2:42 am

I love this, it reminds us to be child-like and be young at heart! (and I LOVE the picture!)
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Alison May 1, 2012 at 3:44 pm

What an awesome picture! It’s true- as adults, we sometimes let our inhibitions get in the way of really experiencing things. Of course it is a useful quality, too – like not walking off the edge of a cliff – but I think most of us err toward the overly cautious side.

momto8blog May 1, 2012 at 4:48 pm

childlike, not childish…
I love the picture!!!
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Mary B May 1, 2012 at 11:23 pm

I’ll hold you to it! High dive..? :)

Becky K May 2, 2012 at 1:40 am

I’ve noticed increasing inhibitions in my 5-year-old as well. Yet her little sister would plow through the world unafraid. Is it growth and development, acquired caution, or personality differences – hard to tell. But I can say for sure I would not for a million dollars grab a hold of that stinky fish. God bless toddlers! We could take a lesson from them, couldn’t we? Waiting to hear the news of your big dive later this summer… :)
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Erica {let why lead} May 2, 2012 at 2:39 am

Agreed. I was thinking while writing this about those fabulous souls who make it to adulthood with very little inhibition. We all know someone like that, right? They’re created by combo of nature and nurture, I suppose!

Haha, and yes, if my sister (Mary – the comment above yours) is holding me to this dive, maybe I could do it in Arizona—the one place where the water might be warm enough to convince me!

Crystal @ Serving Joyfully May 10, 2012 at 12:36 pm

I’ve been thinking about that same sad truth! Last week, my 4 year old son (who already rides his bike really well with NO training wheels!), had a bad wreck on our long gravel driveway. He busted his nose, scraped up his chin, and really did a number on the inside and outside of his lip. We were scared he’d be afraid. The very next day, he was out on his bike, riding full speed, being his regular daring self. He wasn’t holding anything back. It made me wish that he could keep that forgetfulness that allows him not to think about what happened the last time and give the next time his all anyway. Life has a way of taking that out of us and it was sad to think about life knocking him down so many times and in so many ways that he’ll become wary.
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Erica {let why lead} May 10, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Thank you so much for the thoughtful comment, Crystal! My oldest can also ride a regular bike, and I feel like his physical capabilities are a bit ahead of his mental, because he’s little enough to have very little fear or sense of caution. Sometimes it’s a little alarming! But it’s also beautiful when you look at it from the perspective of them not being afraid to get right back on when something goes wrong. That’s so sweet! Thanks again!

Sarah May 15, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Love this post :)
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