Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Easter Chicken

J (soon to be five!) has this issue. He’s a… well… I think the technical term is “scaredy cat.”

It all started when he was three and Grandma sent him a “Ghost” and a “Frankenstein” that sang “I Want Candy” for Halloween. He would listen to them over and over, sleep with them, choose them as his only toys to bring on vacation and even (God bless the other unfortunate travelers) on airplanes. He loves them still… though they stopped singing (and even lost a leg or two) long ago.

Grandma tried to duplicate the fun two months later with a hopping Santa to which J responded by recoiling in horror and insisting she put it in her garage until we went home. She tried again last Easter, sending a chicken that plays this crazy loud rendition of the chicken dance song and even does the chicken dance. J (mortified) made me put it away, and all year he’s asked me to verify periodically that Yes, the Easter Chicken is packed up in the garage.

When Halloween rolled around again, Grandma sent him two witches. I don’t remember what they said, because I was only allowed to listen to them once and then they were banished to the garage. Periodically I have to re-promise J that if he doesn’t want the Witches next Halloween he doesn’t have to have them.

In the midst of all of this he found a singing/dancing skeleton last Halloween, talked his dad into buying it and loved it until its legs broke too. I had to throw it away, and he put his Christmas money in his piggy bank to buy a new “dancing skeleton” next Halloween.

Skeletons, ghosts and monsters? Good! Witches, Santas and Chickens? Very very bad!

It’s not just those, however. Occasionally his bedroom door opens and shuts quickly about ten minutes after he’s been tucked into bed. Then my husband and I have this conversation:

Husband: (walks to the door)

Me: Is he okay?

Husband: Yeah… Gorilla was eighty-sixed.
Sometimes it’s not Gorilla. A dragon, a turtle, an elephant and others are routinely given the boot as well.

Some might (and do) presume that this fearfulness is “my fault.” But let me say right here, there’s no way that could be true. If he had absorbed my fears he would fear rodents and other furry animals that live in cages. But when a neighbor brings out her ferret (I’m getting ill just thinking about it) he races over to pet it. He picks up any creepy crawly thing outside he can find (shiver), sticks his fingers in bird cages (yikes!) and points to the grossest looking creatures in his Science stories saying, “Can we eat those?”

Please... He didn’t get his fears from me.

So when I got out the Easter box this year J sat up on the couch several feet away from me waiting for the dreaded Easter Chicken to emerge. When it finally did, the Little One immediately turned it on, smiling, laughing and dancing along with it, much to J’s dismay. But then a beautiful thing happened (parents of “children-who-are-allowed-to-have-noisy-toys” you know what I mean)... the Little One enjoyed the Easter Chicken until its music completely died. And luckily it didn’t take very long either – I guess that’s one handy thing about those destructive little boy instincts.

Interestingly the silent dancing chicken was now J’s favorite toy.

Noisy dancing chicken? Bad. Quiet dancing chicken? Pretty cool.

There’s a chance he does get that from me.

Nevertheless, though he wanted to sleep with the Easter Chicken last night, I heard his door open about ten minutes after I’d tucked him in and went over to find the Easter Chicken all alone outside the bedroom door.

I guess it’s not that cool. Posted by Picasa


Anjali said...

Great post! That is so funny. I happen to be afraid of chickens as well. Perhaps I got that from J?

Rachel said...

This is hysterical, mainly because both of my boys (twins who are four) are all of a sudden completely and utterly afraid (to the point of hysterics) by totally random, unpredictable things. For example, one of them came running from the computer the other day, hysterically crying. When I finally got him to calm down enough to answer, he told me that the wrong Rollie Pollie Ollie was on the computer. What does that mean? I have no idea, but it terrified him.

Glad your son is able to handle ridding the terrifying rotating array of stuffed animals on his own at night - very impressive.

Carrie said...

Very funny! And BOY do I sympathize with him. I remember a doll that I received when I was about his age. You pulled a string and her neck rolled a little and made a sound. I was convinced there were bumblebees inside her and she was banished to the top of the hall closet where my mom had to pull her out every now and then to convince me she was still there!!

Wendy said...

My 5 year old has an irrational fear of jackalopes, and a not so irrational fear of beetles. We have lots of beetles, so we have lots of screaming.

Jenn said...

A dancing CHICKEN????....I will gladly trade you the dancing chicken for our singing farting Christmas Snowman that my mom bought for us last December. It was buried for a while with all the christmas stuff - but as little boys (and husbands) tend to poke around in the basement, the farting Snowman was resurrected much to MY dismay, and to the delight of my 4 yr old, while my 3 yr old hates the noise. Then again, he hates all noises, which is why I'm not allowed to listen to music in the van, and the TV must be barely above a whisper - yet somehow his resonant "MUMMMMM-MMMMY" is heard from approx 3 blocks away. My kids are so weird sometimes - but i guess we only have ourselves to blame - weirdness is inherited you know.

ninepounddictator said...

Ok, I think we have that dancing chicken thing...and a) it is kind of scary...and b) you should be so happy that he didn't like it...try listening to it 18 times an hour!

Anonymous said...

Your son's erratic fear of random toys is amusing as it is confusing. Why would he adore ghosts and skeletons and fear Santa and Easter chicks? The paradox of it all is absoluetely perplexing! Perhaps he's had a bad experience? Maybe trauma caused by a bad babysitter? I speak from experience when I suggest this, because I had an abusive babysitter when I was younger. She forced me to watch Chuckie (the horror movie where a criminal's evil soul is trapped in a murderous doll's body), locked me in the dark, and told me my toys would come to kill me just like Chuckie. Quite traumatizing for a 4 year old. Also one of the downfalls of having an incredible memory.
However, typically I laugh at and mock horror movies, pointing out the cliches and what will happen half an hour beforehand with ridicule, I still don't dare watch a Chuckie movie. I tried to overcome my ridiculous fear of the red-head doll of doom by forcing myself to watch it of my own accord. By the midpoint of the movie, I had chewed my nails until my fingers bled and was forced to leave the room by my own terror.
My point is that there is no reaction without a cause. Something must be affecting him. He may even have slight Ophthalmophobia (fear of being stared at or watched) and feel they are staring at him while he sleeps. Check the eyes on the toys he does like and the toys he doesn't like and see if there are any differences between the two groups. (Perhaps the ones he fears have beady glass eyes?)
My point is to find out what is triggering his aversion to only certain toys and try to fix it. Otherwise he may carry the phobia into adulthood, just like my fear of a certain doll.

MommyWithAttitude said...

Those are interesting thoughts Anonymous, but I've never left my kids with a babysitter (little phobia of my own there). And the most heinous thing he's ever seen on TV is Scooby Doo, Batman cartoons and he saw the original Star Wars once. Also if I take him to the farmers market where there are real live chickens he tries to catch them.

The very definition of a phobia is something that is irrational. I have a fear of being kidnapped and sold into slavery which is far less likely to happen to me even than winning the lottery or being struck by lightening.

Most people I know have a bizarre and inexplicable aversion to or fear of something random and harmless. I think it's a weird variation on normal.