When Ryan was perhaps five he developed a sudden, and somewhat debilitating, fear of white vans.
Taking walks around our neighborhood was a common activity back then, but all of sudden we had to plan our route to avoid passing any white vans. Ryan would tense up with fear and insist we go a different direction any time we saw one.
Do you know how many contractors drive white vans?
I can tell you: a lot. Especially in the middle of the last decade, when home equity was cheap and everyone was upgrading their kitchens with granite counter tops. When we hired a contractor to do our own kitchen, we were thrilled to learn he drove a black pickup truck. Memories are hazy, but it may have been the reason we hired him.
It became nearly impossible to go anywhere without encountering a white van. Many a walk ended abruptly, as we had to quickly return home with an upset Ryan.
He never could explain to us where the fear of white vans came from or why they bothered him so much. And just as randomly as the fear appeared, one day it was gone, never to be discussed again.
Which brings us to today. Ryan’s enjoyment of hockey is suddenly threatened by a fear we can’t figure out. I mentioned it in a post a few weeks ago. The idea that a team might generate 30 shots on a goal in a single period really, really bothers him. Last night we learned that there’s another potentially traumatic number: 60 shots on goal by one team, total, for an entire game.
We Veronica learned this first-hand as the Rangers were on pace for 60 shots about halfway through their game with Washington last night. I was out playing hockey with my men’s league team so missed the meltdown that ensued. She told me about it when I got home, how both she and Riley attempted to calm him, both separately and together, without success. About how they tried to learn from him why both numbers upset him so, also without success. How Riley expressed fear that people will make fun of her big brother.
About the only bright spot of the entire episode was Riley. Despite a typical brother-sister relationship with lots of fights and arguments. She does love her brother. She even told him so in the middle of his issue last night. When Veronica’s attempts to calm Ryan failed, Riley told her, “let me try,” and then endured getting yelled at when she entered his room to try and talk him down.
Other than Riley’s outreach, the episode left us saddened. It is hard to watch your child struggle with something that you can’t make any sense of. Harder still when he can’t tell you why. We keep thinking that somewhere there is a logic to why those numbers — 30 shots on goal in a period or 60 in a game — make him so upset, mostly because there is logic and linear thought pattern to almost everything Ryan does. But we haven’t yet been able to crack this code.
Until then, we’ll continue to hold our breath every time an NHL team starts peppering the opponent’s net with shots, and hope that this fear eventually passes the way of the white van.