After signing up months ago (maybe a year ago?) at the Right To Life Center as a volunteer, I finally got the call to come help with something, putting address labels on a mailing. I was excited, and so was Kittyboy, because he knows that's where they have ''babies in the window''. We packed one of his little bookbags with toys, headed downtown, and discovered that the easiest 2-hr parking spaces, by far, were a block away. Just a little walk up a hill and across... train tracks.
Kittyboy is infamous for choosing inopportune times to be scared of random stuff. Just so happened he's never walked over train tracks before. We got to about level with the crossing gate, and he turned in front of me, almost tripping me. I told him we had to keep going, we had to cross, and he started whimpering and whining no, and kept pulling me in circles like a dog on a leash. He would not cross the tracks. I told him impatiently that this was ridiculous, there was no train, it was fine, and we had to go. The way the tracks are at 3rd and Monroe, there's one lane of 3rd St either side of the tracks, so we were basically in the road. So I pulled him toward the tracks again, and he jerked away hard, almost ran into traffic. Monroe's a busy four-lane. I couldn't carry him, my arms were full, so eventually I just pulled him after me over the tracks (guess I still AM stronger), and told him on the other side while he cried, that he MUST NEVER try to get away from me like that again. Of course, having taken all that trouble, the papers to be mailed hadn't come yet and we had to come back at 1:30. I'd already plugged the meter, so I thought we may as well go to the Marian Center across the street. Kittyboy loves that store. But I wasn't going to haul his stuff around while we shopped. Back over the train tracks.
Same scenario - the panic, circling around me, trying to jerk away. Dragged him back across again against his will, telling him stoically that everything was fine, there was no train, all was well. Not the ideal way to handle a terrified child, but neither could we just sit in the street and talk about it, and you have to get him calmed down before you even CAN talk about it. Which wasn't going to happen so long as he knew we WERE crossing the tracks regardless.
Back at the car, I unloaded, and asked him if he WANTED to go to the Marian Center. I pointed out we'd have to cross the tracks again. He did say he wanted to. Sigh.
Third crossing, he may have THOUGHT he was going to be fine, but no - I just scooped him up and went. Being carried didn't make things okay for him, it just made him easier to transport.
So the whole length of the block, he kept pulling in random directions, jerking away, that time he was acting panicky well after the crossing was over. He didn't relax until we were in the Marian Center.
Aaahhh, safety. Peace, quiet, church music playing, not to mention a pronounced lack of train tracks. We sat right on the floor and Talked About It. I asked him why he was afraid of the train tracks. No clear answer except something to do with a train (duh). I told him there was no train. I told him you never, ever, ever, ever run away from Mommy. I told him traffic is dangerous and You Will Get Hurt. He got all that, nodded, agreed. Except no one thinks rationally when they're freaking out, right?
The Marian Center carries an abundance of small, inexpensive pendants, pins, little rosaries, icon cards, lots of things that could have qualified as bribes/security-things. I started asking - ''Would a new cross necklace help you cross the tracks?'' ''No.'' ''Would a new little icon card help you cross the tracks?'' ''No.'' I offered, and he rejected, everything I could think of. He pulled a nice olive wood crucifix necklace off a rack and declared it was his - I looked at the price and asked, ''Could this help you cross the...'' ''No.'' And then he put it back! That cross he really wanted, he did not want enough to cross the tracks without a fight. That's serious!!
He ran over to their collection of small icons, and started pulling them out for me to name. Those were a little beyond my ''inexpensive bribery'' price range, but I was asking anyway whether another icon of Jesus would help him cross the tracks (no) or another of the Mother of God (no), and one he pulled out was the Archangel Gabriel. That WOULD be Alexis Gabriel's patron, so I asked Kittyboy if he thought we should get that ''for Alexis'', he agreed, and then I brought up how angels are God's messengers and ministers, and they watch over us. God watches over us, and angels do His bidding, right? And if God has His angels watching over us, then we've no reason to be afraid, do we? Kittyboy was holding the icon and nodding along. So did he think he could cross the tracks with Alexis' icon? Seeing as how it's an angel?
Would you believe the answer was still no?
And then he didn't want us to buy the icon, because then he'd have to cross the tracks without a fight, and he knew he couldn't do that, therefore he couldn't get the icon (so his reasoning went). And I couldn't convince him that we could get the icon regardless, and it became apparent that getting the icon was actually going to upset him further (again, see diagram of his logic above). So we put it back. But now I was pointing out every angel I saw, and telling him again and again how God watches over us (Father, Son and Holy Spirit, all three!), and His angels watch over us, and of course the Mother of God (his favorite), and his patron St. Patrick, and so we don't have to be afraid, do we? He agreed wholeheartedly - but tracks were still not happening. Talked about how Mommy and Daddy wouldn't let anything hurt him, and God loves him even more than we do - he agreed, he was quite agreeable, but No Tracks. In the Children's Room, they had a copy of a picture I want - a little boy leaning over a cliff to pick flowers, TOTALLY oblivious, with an angel hovering nearby. As many times as Kittyboy has tempted serious injury...! And I pointed it out to him. He liked it. He didn't want it (and it was well out of my range or I'd have gotten it anyway). And it wasn't going to help him over the tracks.
I'd given up, we'd looked at everything, I would just have to carry him over while he freaked and then we'd put railroad crossings on the No list, and then he saw a little guardian angel pin on a spindle by the door. He said, ''That my guardien angel!'' I pointed out that it wasn't an actual angel, it was a picture of one... wait, would that angel help him cross the tracks without being scared and running? Jumping with his arms outstretched, trying to reach it - ''YES!''
And wearing his little pin, he walked across the tracks holding my hand. He didn't stop, jerk away, spin me in circles, or try to run. He whimpered pitifully from one side to the other, but he did it!
And when we went back at 1:30 to help with the mailing, we found a parking space right in front!
(I should add that we also discussed extensively that just because God takes care of us, does NOT mean we cross the tracks if a train IS coming!)