When I was about four or five years old, my mom and stepdad rented a movie that I wasn’t allowed to watch with them. It was called The Amityville Horror, and I was instructed to play in my room while they watched it. Of course, being forbidden from watching the movie meant that I just HAD to see it. So I very cleverly figured out that if I “accidentally” bounced the rubber ball I was playing with out into the living room, then I’d at least be able to catch a glimpse of the forbidden movie.
And catch a glimpse I did. This glimpse.
And for the next several months (I’d have to ask my mom to find out exactly how long), I flat out REFUSED to flush a toilet. Nuh-uh, not gonna happen. (Of course, I was also the kid who as a toddler would flip out if you pulled the plug in the bathtub before I got out, because I was convinced I’d go down the drain – I actually have memories of being terrified of the water going down).
Clearly this was all preparation for my adult life, in which I’ve had to deal with toilet overflowing with disgustingness and snake gross stuff out of them more times than I can count, thanks to my kiddo with autism and his fascination with watching things swirl down the toilet.
But funny thing, I’m actually a HUGE fan of horror now – books and movies both. Heck, I even write scary stories myself. Maybe it was self-preservation – embracing that which you’re afraid of. I remember the school librarian reading a selection from “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” to my class in (I think) the 2nd grade, and LOVING the scary stories and illustrations. (Do a Google Image search on the book – those illustrations are STILL wonderfully creepy even as a grown-up). And I was reading Dean Koontz and Stephen King by the time I was ten (not with my mom’s knowledge, mind you).
My biggest fear as an adult is the fear of something bad happening to one of my kids – normal maternal anxiety heightened a bit by having lost two of my three younger sisters at young ages. Beyond that, I have mild phobias of needles and dentist’s offices (so OF COURSE I end up having dental issues requiring both needles AND multiple dentist appointments), and a somewhat larger phobia of creepy-crawly things in general (although centipedes top the list – have you ever SEEN one of those things up close? Uggghhhhh….)
As for my kids, other than a general fear of the dark, they’ve never had any long-lasting specific fears (knock on wood). My one-year-old is terrified by his immediate family wearing masks or anything that covers up part of their faces – people he doesn’t know are fine – but it’s too soon to tell if that’s going to grow into a serious fear or if he’s just being a one-year-old. I assume the latter.
What were you afraid of as a kid? And what fears have your kids had? And what’s your advice for helping kids overcome their fears?