Tuesday, April 17, 2012

How to Create a Phobia

Last summer when we came to Utah for my sisters wedding, an incident occured which has had unexpected and far reaching consequences.

Unassuming, innocent Andrew loves bugs. He was thrilled to play outside and pick-up, poke, flick and, well...mame the various critters indiginous to our beautiful Utah climate. Of those wee beasties...gulp...spiders were among them. (If you don't already know how I feel about spiders you can read this). So when confronted with these vermin during our outings, I would do my best to discretely scoot away from Andrew while fervently suggesting that we play with other things or go inside for a popsickle. That was all I could do to keep my cool. Heaven help me if he got too close to the little blood sucking stinkers.

Well...one day heaven wasn't there to help.

I was sitting at the bar in the kitchen eating yogurt when from the corner of my eye I noticed Andrew pick something up. At about this same time I hear Andrew giggle and say, "It tickles me mom!" This naturally garnered my attention. As I focused on the small ticklish object held firm in Andrew's chubby fingers my senses filled with horror, and in a tidal wave of pure primal instinct I yelled out in hysterics, "NOOOOOOO ANDREW, PUT IT DOWN. AGGHHHHHHH!"
Yes--Andrew had picked up one of those big (yes, seriously LARGE) brownish, hairy devil-spiders by one of it's long, spindly legs and dangled it in the air while it clamored feverishly to climb up. Poor Andrew thought it was tickling him.

Insert my reaction.

Andrew threw the thing across the floor with pure terror in his face and scrambled to the nearest couch where he grabbed and pulled pillows ensuring a tight encasing around his head.

I had blown it...big time. The kid was petrified.

Fast forward to approximately a year later. Andrew is obsessed with spiderman. He loves to check out books about bugs and focuses primarily on the spiders. He owns exactly three spider shirts--all of which are on regular wardrobe rotation. He loves spiders, he is naturally very curious about them. However...what happens if he actually sees a real life arachnid? He freaks, runs away and calls for me (or mainly daddy) to come get it. We know he likes them, but if we try to coax him over to have a look, he firmly shakes his head and says, "No...no....no..." In fact, once he say a tiny, tiny guy crawling on s slide at a park. I mean, so miniscule it didn't even make me nervous. But he would not go back on the slide for all the gummy worms in the world and we ended up going home after only 10 minutes at the park. HOWEVER to further add some unsettling garnish to the situation is his reaction once the beasties are, ahem, disposed of. He acts immediately relieved but says things like, "Oh, he is my friend, he just needed to go back to his house."Or, "Can he come and play again?"


You see? This is what I created. In one fell swoop I trained a boy naturally very curious and interested in spiders to be afraid, nay terrified, of them. And now we have on our hands a situation encrusted with confusion and a little morbidity in which his nature is saying, "Play, play with the little fellas" but his nurture (provided by myself) is saying in bold neon lights, "STOP, RUN, TERROR, HORROR...."

I imagine that someday when he is married and his new wife shrieks, "Andrew, come in here, I need you to get a spider!" He will respond with a shriek of his own and say something like, "No, you saw it first!"


So there you have it, fellow mothers...friends, family...if you ever need a recipe on how to create a phobia that is how it's done.

Do you think it will work for me and chocolate?