The Unexpected Way My Son Got Over His Biggest Fears
Words: Cianni Jackson
Visuals: Jennifer Currell
Jewelry designer Lorraine West tells mater mea how her mini-me got over one of his biggest fears with the help of five friends: his dad and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
“I’m a big boy; I can do it.”
Solomon Boyd—or “Solly” as he is affectionately called to distinguish him from his dad—uses that motto as a self-motivator whenever he is faced with a challenge. Having only taken baths before, being introduced to showers and trickling water overhead required a bit of a transition.
“Initially he was a bit hesitant to get under the water,” his mother, jewelry designer and artist Lorraine West explains. “So his father encouraged him by repeating, ‘You’re a big boy [and] you can do it.’ Solly began saying, ‘I’m a big boy. I can do it.’” He repeated his motto until the fear went away. Now, showertime is fun!
At 3 years old, being a “big boy” is important to Solly. “He’s very interested in independence and not being a baby,” Lorraine says. “It’s that stage between [ages] 3 and 4 where they are transitioning. He can be stubborn, but [we’re] allowing him to try things on his own. His father and I encourage him to make mistakes [and] learn from them.”
For Solly, being a big kid means overcoming a lot of his fears, with the help of his mom and dad, artist and musician Solomon “Suede Jenkins” Boyd. The younger Boyd recently got some big-boy inspiration from a pretty heroic source: the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. While playing with the action figures and their movable limbs, Solly decided to tackle his fear of hanging upside down heads-on.
“I noticed [that] playing with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toys brought out his interest to explore his movements more fearlessly and show them off in front of us,” Lorraine says. “He said, ‘I can do that, I can move my body like that, too.’”
He tried yoga poses like downward-facing dog and cobra pose, and tumbled around his living room in front of his parents. “He was inspired to do physical poses with his body inspired by the Turtles’ mobility. He really wanted to show off his moves,” Lorraine says proudly. Remembering the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when they were originally released in the ‘80s, Lorraine enjoys being able to share the characters from her youth with her son, who embraces them in a way she never did. In his own way, Solly is helping his mom become a “big kid” too. “He’s teaching me to take more risks,” Lorraine says.
But Solly’s feats of big kid-dom don’t stop there. A family trip to Rockaway Beach in Long Island, New York was a chance for Solly to put his motivating phrase to use again when he was a bit timid about getting into the ocean for the first time. “The huge waves were intimidating but he said ‘I’m a big boy. I can do it,’” Lorraine recalls. “We’ve now been several times and he jumps right into the ocean. [He] tells us we can leave and he’ll be ok by himself.
“We’d never leave him,” Lorraine continues, “but it’s helped me trust that he is going to get it. He’s developing control over his emotions. It shows that our parenting is actually working. Parents want to solve everything but you have to let them try things on their own, or they might miss that window and never try it again.”