Lila is known as the “brave one” amongst her friends. If you need a volunteer to try something, Lila’s your girl! Dare or double dare her? Ha! No prob. Lila is up for everything and anything. This little warrior will climb to the top of a tree or the monkey bars, dive into pool on the deep end and even throw in a trick for dramatic effect, dig up worms with her bare hands for the perfect mud pie topping, eat a cricket (preferably sea salt and vinegar flavored) or any other disgusting thing guaranteed to gross out family and friends. But, as extreme as Lila’s desire is for danger and dares, she also has these sudden intense emotions sparked by the few rare things that scare her. A chicken myself, I admit that in most situations I am absolutely no help, which is just one more factor contributing to my ever growing mom guilt. As mothers, isn’t it our instinct, better yet our duty, to protect our young? What happens when your daughter screams and you’re screaming even louder? I need to get it together. Perhaps the first step is to recognize and own our fears.
|Lila... Danger is her middle name.|
Here are mine and Lila’s Top 10 Random Things That Scare Us the Most:
1) Birds (Me): I don’t know where this came from exactly. Maybe it’s from watching Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds as a child or having a pigeon poop on my head? I just don’t trust birds. A little bird on the ground is fine, but a flock, a few, or even one flapping around me? Eek!! My heart rate’s increasing as I’m typing this. So, what happens when you’re at a nature center and a not-so-friendly goose starts squawking and biting at your kid’s clothes? If you’re like me you immediately jump back and try to hide behind someone while you desperately wait for one of the staff members to shoo the big bad bird away. When the commotion is over you feel ashamed because you realize you did nothing while your daughter got attacked by a bird. All you can do is try your best to make up for it by comforting her with tons of please-forgive-me hugs and kisses. (Yet another dent in my “mom of the year” trophy.)
2) Robots (Lila): Every time Lila gets an invitation to a birthday party she asks “will there be any robots or cheesecake?” The type of birthday cake is important because Lila has an aversion to cheese, but the robot thing is really random. She just decided one day that she did not like robots. I didn’t realize just how much she did not like robots—that, in fact, she was horrified of robots, until the four BFF’s (Lila, Sarah, Elisa, and Clara) had play date during which a toy robot was brought into the mix. The laughter above soon turned into frantic cries, which is really hard to detect at first. So, unfortunately poor Lila was stuck facing her fear while I kept chatting over coffee downstairs. By the time I realized what was going on, Lila demanded “Let’s get out of here! NOW!” And the play date was over.
3) Dolls (Me): The Twilight Zone’s “Talkie Tina” could be to blame or maybe it was the rumored news story about the little girl’s Cabbage Patch Kid that became possessed, but some dolls really creep me out to this day. My mom used to own a country crafts and antique store and the vintage dolls with the glass eyes were the worst. Eew! I get the shivers just thinking about them. As a child, every night, I had a ritual of putting each and every doll in the closet. I couldn’t fall asleep until I knew they were locked away and couldn’t “get” me during the night. My mom recently tried to give me back my old dolls and I politely declined. No thank you!
4) Supermarket Singing Vegetables (Lila): There is a store in our region that has lots of “fun” animatronics and costumed characters to entertain the children while parents shop. Who would guess that Lila would be terrified of them? Annabelle soon learned this herself when she tried to take Lila to that particular supermarket. Despite the promise of ice cream, which at least got Lila there, at the last minute fear took over and soon came the tears. “Vegetables shouldn’t sing” is her explanation. Makes sense. I have to admit that I was never fond of the costumed characters as a child. I get it. However, for a while, before every grocery store trip we had to convince Lila that “this is not the one with the singing vegetables” to calm her nerves.
5) Heights (Me): As a child, I had a reoccurring nightmare that I was falling. It was horrifying. In my dream I would never actually hit the ground, I would wake up suddenly with my heart pounding. I think it goes along with my personality—I like to have both feet on the ground at all times. No risks for me. So, what happens when your adventurous toddler decides to climb up into those netted indoor juggle gyms and you have to climb up and get her? You go up there and shake and pray the whole time trying to control the panic in your voice- “Lila, come down, please, NOW!”
|Lila rock climbing. Luckily she doesn't share my fear of heights.|
6) Certain Bugs (Both of us): Lila is fascinated with most bugs. She will collect beetles in a bucket and catch fireflies in her hands. She has no qualms about picking up worms or caterpillars. But some bugs FREAK HER OUT! One rainy night, we were on our way home from Ellyn and Clara’s house when we both noticed a big brown spider in the car. There were a few seconds of silence and then Lila let out a blood curdling scream! Honestly, I wanted to scream too, but I had to try to remain calm for Lila’s sake. I pulled over, took a deep breath and swiped the spider out of the car. I jumped back in, now soaked from the rain, and sped off (as if the spider was going to chase us). Lila wasn’t convinced that he was gone and her continual screams and cries made me unsure that he was gone. We spent the entire car ride (which seemed like an eternity even though I live only a few miles away) thinking the spider was on one of us. We took turns—“I feel him on me!" "Is he on me!?" "AHHHHH!” It didn’t help that the rain drops trickling down my skin felt exactly like spiders crawling on me.
|Creepy crawly things have never really phased her.|
7) The Dark (Lila and me too sometimes): This is a pretty common one, right? Lila must have a night light, every night. Currently, it is a groovy lava lamp. For extra illumination her entire ceiling is full of glow-in-the-dark stars, courtesy of dad. As for me, I am scared of dark but only when outside. If I come home late, I am sure to hustle to the door and I get myself inside as quickly as possible.
8) Strangers (Both of us): Once I am in the house, the alarm is reset. I’ve seen too many Lifetime movies and news reports involving home invasions, so I’m not playing around. Our house alarm is not to protect our stuff— it’s to safe guard us! Another reoccurring nightmare I’ve had as a child involved being kidnapped by a stranger and not being able to scream for my parents. Terrible! And I have passed the fear of strangers onto Lila. After our talks about “not talking to strangers,” Lila will sometimes whisper to me when out in public—“That was close! Did you see that stranger walk by?!?!” I haven’t figured out how to teach a child to be safe without making her paranoid of everyone who walks by.
9) Inadvertently Saying a Bad Word (Lila): Lila does not approve of bad language which she refers to as “bathroom words.” If she is asked to repeat something fresh that another child has said she will downright refuse. I’m not talking the major four letter words here— I’m talking about innocent words like “stupid” or “fart.” Oh no! Don’t talk that way in front of Lila. And because she sets such a high standard for politeness, I have learned that if you point out that she shouldn’t use a certain word she will get VERY upset with herself. It will trouble her for the rest of the day, even if she says a bad word unknowingly. Sweet Lila. I wonder how long this stage will last.
10) Bad Dreams (Lila and me too sometimes): The curse of having an active, vivid imagination is that you are susceptible to bad dreams. Lila knows this all too well. There was a period of time when her bad dreams occurred almost every night. It got so bad that she was afraid to fall asleep. It wasn’t one reoccurring dream. Each night it was something different and more outrageous. The bad dreams have subsided now thanks to her dream catcher and angels in her room. Additionally, Lila sleeps in a certain part of her bed where the “bad dreams don’t get her.” Hey, whatever works!
|One way to embrace your fears...|
|be a little scary yourself!|