Fear is a great motivational factor

September 22, 2021

By nature, I’m not very afraid of bugs, insects, heights or tight spaces. Don’t take that to mean that I would be fine being buried in a casket filled with bugs on a mountain. I wouldn’t … mainly because I would prefer not to be buried at all while I’m alive.

Still, I’m learning that the things we are afraid of can be great motivational tools. Take for instance, once my oldest son, Bubba, and his friend, Carson, were playing football in the front yard. After an errant pass had sent the ball rolling into the road, the two entered into a conversation to find out who should go retrieve the ball.

“I think you should go get it,” Bubba said.

“I think you should go get it,” Carson retorted.

“You didn't catch it so you go get it,” Bubba said.

“You’re uglier than me, so you should go get it,” Carson said.

Understand, both of these guys were 6-foot-5 and determined to stand their ground. Giving in would mean the other was anything less than the Alpha male. After about 4 hours of arguing who should go get the ball, Bubba decided to settle the issue. He threw up his arms and started walking … to the creek that runs behind the house. A few minutes later, he marched back into the yard, looked at his friend and says, “I think you are going to go get the ball.”

“No, I’m not,” Carson said.

At this point, Bubba reaches into his pocket and pulls out a small frog and begins walking toward Carson.

I’m not saying Bubba’s friend is afraid of frogs, but someone with the initials of “Carson” screamed like a little girl and began running all over the yard like his hair was on fire. He went and got the ball.

The same treatment worked for my youngest son, Bobby, a few days later. One of a handful of teenagers that the doctor gave us instead of a bill so many years ago, he was asked to take out the trash. One hour … two hours… and the trash was still there.

“Tommy Joe! (That’s what She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Made-Mad calls me when she wants to stress something) Can you get your son to take out the trash? I asked him to do it a long time ago and he still hasn’t moved.”

Being the cool male parental unit that I am, I didn’t raise my voice or anything like that. All I did was use a little psychology … and a small spider that I found. I told him if he didn’t go take the trash out before I counted to five, I would throw the tiny 8-legged arachnid on him.

Needless to say, he went immediately. Of course, my approach backfired a little later, though.

“How would you like it if I got something you were afraid of and threatened to throw it on you?” my youngest son queried when he got back.

“Like what?” I said. “I’m not really afraid of anything.”

“Mom!” he yelled. “Dad just spilled coke on your couch!!”

I have to admit that was a good one.

Just as soon as SWMNBMM gives up searching for me with that stick, I swear I’m gonna crawl out of this trunk in the attic and go postal on that boy.

Until then, please talk in a low whisper. I’m very afraid!

Tommy Wells is the editor of the Carnegie Herald. Everything in this column is true, except for the parts that are made up, exaggerated or just plain lies.