The What-Ifs

Poor Bruce.

For three Saturdays in a row, he made up excuses for not going to the meadow to play with his forest friends.  After being asked by his friends why he didn’t want to come out to play, Bruce said, “If I come out and play, something might happen.”  When asked what would happen, Bruce’s imaginary what-if creatures came out of his head and clung tightly to his antlers.

“What if I leave my home and clouds come, and it rains, and I slip and fall and hurt myself?  Or what if I try to cross the bridge and it breaks and I fall into the stream?  Or what if I make a mistake playing a game and you all laugh at me?”

It had been many years since I had set foot inside the Children’s Room at our local library. After taking a walk up town today and listening to my bladder beg me for relief,  I decided to use the facilities at the library, which are right next to the Children’s Room.

One hour later, I was still in the library watching all the toddlers and babies reading with their care givers, singing the Itsy Bitsy Spider song, playing with the germ-infested toys that haven’t been replaced since 1965 and sitting comfortably in the very tired looking bean bags.

Oh, the memories.

Spending time in the Children’s Room for hours was my kids’ favorite pastime   It was right up there with going to the candy store.  The only disappointing aspect of their visit was having to limit the number of books they could check out in one day.  They wanted them all.

Bruce Moose and the What-Ifs, was one of our favorites.  I had seen it on display on one of the shelves and was intrigued by the title.  A book that talked about anxieties, worries and overcoming what-ifs?  Yes, please.  We read that book together on many occasions.  It was the go-to book when my son was anxious about the bees outside, the go-to book when my daughter was afraid to take the training wheels off and the go-to book when starting kindergarten.

Bruce Moose taught my kids to speak sternly to their what-ifs, telling them to leave them alone.  He showed them that the more secure they felt about themselves, the quicker the what-if creatures would disappear.  A “pop” sound would be heard every time a what-if was overcome. Pop! Pop!  Away went the worries.

I could not resist.  I looked up the book on the library computer system and saw that it was available.  It was waiting for me to check it out.  Right in the same shelf we frequented nearly 15 years ago.

As I sat on my couch reading it, I realized that I too needed Bruce to remind me how to handle the case of the what-ifs.  “What if I feel too lonely when the kids are gone? Or what if try something new and I make a fool of myself?  Or what if I am not smart enough to succeed?”

Thank you Bruce Moose, for your wise words.

Now 20 and 18, I cannot wait until my kids get home from their respective jobs today and re-aquaint themselves with Bruce  .