“Like, you’re seeing dead people or you’re just scared of the other customers around us?”
“Er… okay. Well, you know, this is Chapters and I’m not the only parent running out of places to go when the weather is cold, so there are people. It’s a fact of life.”
“Yeah, what do you want me to do about it? No one is even paying attention to you. People are minding their own business. Go play.”
Oh, I’m not heartless and trust me, I would know if Mark was agoraphobic. But lately, he has been scared of pretty much everything—or so he claims.
I’m a loving parent, a maid (“oh oh… mess!”), an authority figure (“non, I said!”), an architect (“see, add more Duplo blocks and that’s a house!”), a nurse (“… and this is why we pick up Duplo blocks, so that we don’t trip on them, okay, I’ll blow a kiss on your foot”), a teacher (“so, what’s after ‘one’?”), a cook (“do you want ham with your pasta?”), a stylist (“I don’t think you are supposed to put pants on your head, Mark”), an aesthetician (“it’s… nail-cutting time!”)…
… and now I’m a freaking Ghostbuster.
Yes, because Mark isn’t only scared of people (or hands…)—he is scared of monsters too.
It started with the wolf book. My mum sent us a French classic, a twist on the Three Little Pigs story. Halfway through the book, there is a 3-D pop up of the wolf, his mouth wide open, showing teeth. Mark was terrified the first time he saw it.
I understand. I guess it can be scary, and my father, a wise man, has always told me that “you respect people’s fears” (I think that was after realizing that buying me a mouse as my first pet wasn’t a great idea since my mum is terrified of them).
So I took Mark’s fear seriously. I told him he could hide the wolf if he wanted to.
This is why it’s been three months that every time I pick up new undies in my drawer, I have to lift the book.
But Mark was also fascinated with the wolf, and he started to look for more “monsters”. And his definition of a “monster” is pretty broad. We don’t need to show him Resident Evil, a guy wearing a ski mask is a monster. And he doesn’t avoid “monsters” either, he wants to be scared.
Toddlers are complex little human beings.
When I was a kid, I was scared of crabs (mostly because my guy friends would fish them and throw them at me) and most large insects, such as beetles. Oh, and I was terrified of mosquitoes. There was something sinister, I thought, being in bed, lights off, and hearing the insect buzzing around, knowing that I soon as I’d stopped moving, he would probably land on my skin and suck me dry. My parents spent many nights killing mosquitoes for me, until one day, my mom got sick of it and I was left dealing with it. I survived the night and they never bothered me much afterwards.
These days, I’m scared of normal stuff: people around me getting hurt, daycare centres going bankrupt, not making enough money, dying, not being a good enough mother, running out of time, my mother-in-law and forgetting important stuff.
I’m not scared of monsters, so I’m a great monster exterminator.
“Is there a monster in the closet?”
“Check. Mommy, CHECK!”
“Nope. No monster.”
Now, I don’t want the ghostbusting to get out of control either, so I’m encouraging Mark to talk about his fears and we figure out what’s really scary (i.e. an actual monster) and what’s just silly (being scared of people).
Hopefully we will get somewhere… like in bed on time?