All Bugged Out
The first time I noticed this was when Noah had just turned three. We were at a hot air balloon festival at a private, local airport. He wanted to go up in a single engine plane. My few experiences in airplanes had mostly involved very large planes in which I wrote my last will and testament - as well as final words to former lovers - while visualizing the fiery wreck that would be my final resting place. But I had actually been doing some work at that airport and some of the pilots had told me how safe the smaller planes were, so I hopped in with one of these acqaintances, strapped Noah in and watched him have the time of his life.
Someone once told me that his fondest memories of childhood were when he knew that the people around him were having fun. That if his mother were stressed or angry, that it made the event less enjoyable. I never thought of that until he put it into words, but it's true. If you've ever traveled with a bad travel buddy, you know exactly what I mean. You could be staring at the pyramids in Egypt and be pissy.
So it is with kids. With fear, I think it's amplified. If you're scared, they'll be scared - about 10 times more.
My latest thing is bugs. Noah has taken to picking them up. Well, let's rewind - that's my fault. I got him this bug catcher thing from CVS. The net doesn't work very well, so he's become brave. He started with ants (notoriously hard to pick up, actually) and rollie pollies. Then he graduated to worms and caterpillars, and now, finally, he is actually picking up daddy longlegs (What's the plural of daddy longlegs? Daddys longlegs?) and spiders. (The two aren't the same thing, if you didn't know. Daddy longlegs aren't spiders. I'm so smart.)
When he first started with all this a couple of months ago, he was really squeamish. We have these scientific bug flashcards, and we were actually able to separate them into three categories: those that bite, those that sting, and those that excrete something that smells nasty when threatened. So, of course, when it got warm enough to go outside, he naturally thought that everything he saw either bit, stung, or excreted something that smelled nasty when threatened. The graduation from bug to bug has been over the course of many weeks. Weeks when I told him there was nothing to worry about, that things weren't going to bite him, that he was scarier than they were.
And he believed me.
This is good, I know, but it's thrown me into a whole other world - a world where I am not (supposed to be) scared of bugs. He doesn't know I was bluffing. He's a boy, for god's sake: he can't be scared of bugs! I was doing it to build him up. And now, I am forced to help him corral them, to pull them off his shirt when they crawl too far up his arm, to brush them off his toes when they go in his sandals.
Yesterday, I got in my car and went to turn on the radio. There was a cocoon - A FUCKING COCOON - of something suspended in some spider-web looking stuff on the dashboard next to my radio. It must have crawled in through the window or been released into the car by Noah. I thought for a moment of him, how excited he'd be about a cocoon, how he'd wonder what was in it. I thought of the thing inside and wondered how long the bug would need to live there before it came out, what it would be. And then I thought maybe it was actually spiders or something.
All those thoughts passed through my brain in about 3 seconds. And three seconds was all I needed to get the most major case of heebie-jeebies I'd ever had in my life. I grabbed a LOT of paper towels, mustered the biggest surge of girlie-girl-courage I could, and got that fucking thing out of there. Noah will never know.
I mean, a woman's got to have her limits.