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.