I’ve said before that my kids are fearless. And they are.
But they have their limitations, just like anyone else. And because they’re my kids, they do it in slightly diverse ways. They are not particularly bothered by spiders. Indeed, they positively welcome monsters. But there is a variety of weird stuff that scares the living crap out of them. I’m talking ‘clinging to me like a monkey and quivering’ scared.
I managed to think of a whole eight things! But I know there’s more.
There’s always more.
I’ll admit that this isn’t exactly an ‘out there’ one, but it’s ok for a start. Little Girl is absolutely terrified of fireworks. Bonfire Night was a complete waste of time. Unless she has eyes in the back of her head. Because that’s what she was looking at them with.
She kept this intense fear a secret, though. Which was really freaking helpful. Last year, she loved them! Grinned and cheered at each one. And in the run up to November 5th, all she could talk about was how excited she was to see the fireworks. On the night, she skipped down to the park. She couldn’t wait.
Then, they started. And she went from gleeful, sweet-munching toddler to wide-eyed, shaking toddler. She buried her head in Mark’s shoulder and silently hid, only speaking to say, “I don’t like it.” She spent the long ten minutes that the display lasted for staring at a brick wall.
On the way home, Big Girl bounced along with a joyful spring in her step. “That was amazing!” she cried.
And a little, serious voice piped up from over Mark’s shoulder. “That was not amazing.”
I can’t wait for New Year.
2. The bear in the hall
Ah, the bear in the hall. This was Little Girl’s biggest fear when she was two. I don’t know how it started, or what triggered it. I mean, lots of books have bears in them but, as far as I can remember, none are particularly ominous. And I have a policy of no toys that look like they will come alive and kill you in your sleep. Although that is mainly for my benefit. It’s not just the kids that have irrational fears.
I just remember that one day, as we went up the stairs to brush teeth and get ready for bed, Little Girl lost her shit. I mean seriously lost her shit. She was screaming and wailing and obviously totally freaked out. And I had no idea what was the matter.
You see, Little Girl was a late bloomer, as far as speech was concerned. She didn’t talk much before 2, and even after that she mostly had single words. So when she shrieked, “Bear!” it wasn’t exactly illuminating.
I looked around, searching for this bear. Nothing. And she wasn’t even pointing at anywhere to give me a clue. I couldn’t find a thing. This was annoying. How could I reassure her there was nothing there if I wasn’t 100% sure that was true? Yes, I couldn’t see an evil-looking bear anywhere. But it could have been an oddly arranged scarf. Or a shadow on the wall. Or a fantasy created within her mind. There were a plethora of possibilities.
We did get her calmed down in the end. But the hall remained a risky area of our house. She wouldn’t mention it for ages, just long enough for me to forget that it ever happened. And then she would go to fetch her shoes and have a massive meltdown. Or refuse to set foot over the threshold just at the time we needed to leave the house.
It was a fun six months. Thank God she grew out of that one.
3. The Spoon Monster
This is one of Big Girl’s. What is a spoon monster? I don’t know. Neither does she. Attempts to get her to describe it have proved fruitless. There’s only one thing that is for certain.
It chases her up the stairs.
It happens at random times. She will announce that she’s off for a wee, and head for the bathroom. Now, Big Girl is very energetic, but she is also a total dreamer. So she normally takes at least three times longer to get up the stairs than you would expect.
But this time, all I hear is loud, frantic, racing footsteps that shake the house. She uses the toilet in record time and speeds back down.
She bursts, breathless, back into the room and exclaims, “The spoon monster was after me again!!” Then she collapses on the couch.
“Did you wash your hands?”
UPDATE: Big Girl has informed me that this demon is named ‘The Spoon of Spoons,’ and it eats you up. Eek!
4. Minnie Mouse
Little Girl doesn’t have a specific beef with Minnie Mouse. Which is good for Minnie, because I sense that she has enough issues on her plate already.
Little Girl has an aversion to anybody in a costume. Actually, anybody in a mask, as well. And she always has been. I took her to meet Mickey and Minnie Mouse last year. They came to visit the shopping centre in our town. But it wasn’t the legitimate ones. No, these were more like cheap imitations. They were dressed right and the right colours, but just not quite the same.
And they had fucking crazy eyes.
I swear, I did not pass my fear onto Little Girl. But I was shitting one. Because I hate masks. Or anything with a fixed smile and dead, soulless eyes.
I jollied her along though the queue to meet them, and she seemed keen. Until we reached the front. And then she planted her feet and refused to move.
We saw them again at a party recently. Little Girl went from running around kicking the hell out of some balloons to hanging monkey-like around my neck. I think it’s safe to say that she is not a fan.
I managed to distract her with the bouncy castle, and she perked up a bit. Until Mickey bounced on. Do you know how hard it is to get off a bouncy castle when your nightmare hops on?
It’s near damn impossible.
It’s cool though. She’ll only be talking about it for oh, four months or so.
5. The Dark
I know you’re raising an eyebrow right now, thinking but she said weird fears. Thousands of kids are scared of the dark. I know. This has to be one of the most common childhood fears. Along with clowns and the guy from Funhouse. (Just me?)
As a rule, my kids are not scared of the dark. They sleep in dark bedrooms without a care in the world. There are only two scenarios where they will attempt to convince me that they are scared. And both of those are just a complete blag.
a. “I can’t put my rubbish in the bin, it’s dark in the kitchen and I can’t reach the light! I’m scaaaaared.” This one is almost always accompanied by a dramatic sad face.
b. I can’t sleep, it’s too scary in my bedroom. Can I watch tv with you?” Nice try.
Unexpectedly enough, I am slightly lacking in sympathy at these points. Although I do try to suppress the growl that threatens to emerge from between my gritted teeth as I abandon my warm couch for the thousandth time.
But Big Girl is afraid of something dark. More specifically, the dark patch on the left hand side of her bedroom. I have to admit, I giggled when she told me this yesterday. Which is harsh. But in my defence it was a very quiet giggle. And it was dark. I don’t think she noticed.
As I was tucking her in, she complained of a headache. After considerable assessment, I diagnosed this as an oh-my-god-I’m-exhausted-and-it’s-nearly-Christmas-aarggh induced malaise. She had had some pain relief, but it was still hanging around her right eye. So I suggested that she lie on that side of her head, because that kind of pressure always eases my headaches.
“Oh no,” she said, “I can’t do that.”
“Why?” I asked, looking at her skeptically. (This is the point where I would have raised one eyebrow, if I could. But I can’t. And trying just makes me look like an idiot.)
She gestured at the opposite side of the room. “It’s too dark over there. I have to sleep with my back to it.”
There doesn’t seem to be anything in particular that she is hiding from over there, apparently it is just generally creepy. And she would not turn over, even though her head was super painful. In fact, she pretended that the pain had swapped sides just in case I made her.
And I absolutely cannot identify with this at all. Because it wasn’t me who got so scared reading Duma Key, by Stephen King, that I couldn’t turn over in bed in case there was a walking corpse behind me. Nope.
6. My Reprimanding Face
Do you have a face? I have a face. And it is very effective.
I save it for mild to moderate transgressions. So not something bad enough to require a verbal telling-off, but also not something that should really be ignored. Such as scooping up lasagne with their fingers, or teasing. Or trying to handcuff Squeak to the toy kitchen. You know, the usual
Little Girl doesn’t care. No, she really doesn’t care. She simply laughs, and carries on. But Big Girl really doesn’t like it. Whenever I use it, her face drops and she adopts a whiny voice as she protests.
At first, I didn’t know what my face looked like. It wasn’t a conscious expression, just how I looked when I was mildly pissed off. Now, however, I use it to my advantage. It is great for misbehaving in public, because I don’t have to draw attention to myself.
I just have to remember not to abuse it.
7. Automatic Doors
Finally, Squeak features on the list! Because she is only one, she hasn’t got many fears. But this won’t last for long. If she’s anything like the others, this year will be a horrorfest.
She has begun with automatic doors.
The other night, I had to take her to the walk-in centre as she had a concerning cough. We were triaged and sent to the waiting room, where Squeak soon tired of the toys I had brought. So she went for a wander around.
She marveled at the Christmas tree. “Oh, wow!” she said, and to my surprise didn’t even attempt to dismantle it. Then she noticed the windows.
Squeak loves herself. It’s true. And there’s nothing she likes more than to gurgle and coo over her own reflection. That day was no different.
Closer and closer she waddled, waving at herself and laughing. It was very cute. But then…
The windows slid open.
Because they weren’t windows at all. They were the automatic doors we came in through.
Never have I seen a baby retreat so quickly. She spun around and positively ran back to me, burying her face in my legs. She glanced back suspiciously. What just happened?
Of course, she approached again and again, and ran away again and again. What can I say? She’s obviously an adrenalin junkie.
8. The Dinosaurs Upstairs
Did you know I have dinosaurs living in my house? Well I do. Little Girl said so.
She has been finding out about dinosaurs at school, so they have been a hot topic of conversation. Her imagination did the rest.
We were eating lunch the other day. Well, Squeak and I were. Little Girl had dissected her sandwich and munched the best bits, and was ready to go off and play. So off she went.
Then I heard, “Mummy!” Sigh. I abandoned my food and went to see what was up.
“I heared a noise!” Ah. That old chestnut. “It was upstairs.”
“What was it?” I asked. Tell me, why do I ever think this kind of question is a good idea? Seriously.
“Ermmmm…,” she replied. For about 30 seconds, continuously. Then she said, “I think it is a dinosaur. Dere’s a dinosaur in the bathroom.”
“I’m sure it was just the boiler,” I reassured her. “There’s no dinosaurs upstairs.” I could see from her frown that this response was, at best, inadequate.
“You check it for me?” So I did. We looked in all the nooks and crannies, and established that the bathroom was pterodactyl-free. I returned to the table and picked up my fork. But before I could take a bite…
“Oh, I think it’s in Big Girl’s room now.” A little head peeped round the door at me. “You check it please?”
So up I went. And surprisingly enough, there were no dinosaurs in Big Girl’s room.
She gave it one last try. As I chewed a mouthful of food that frankly, I didn’t even want any more, she gasped and said, “It’s in your room now Mum!”
I did not check it that time.