Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Apparently FDR Never Met a Balloon

When I was a little kid I was afraid of a lot of things. I guess you could say I had a sensitive little soul, but in reality I think I was just scarred from having four older brothers. One time, my brothers told me that there were bears hiding in the forest that surrounded our house in and they would come get me if I was playing on my swing set. My mom never understood why I wouldn’t play on the swing set that I had been dying to get and so sometimes she would make me go play on it. I would sit on the swing, facing the forest, and timidly pump back and forth all the while searching the trees with bug eyes for any sign of hungry bears.

want to play on the seesaw?

Another time, one of my brothers told me that he had something to show me out in the front yard. When I ventured close to the front door, he told me that it’s was the boogey man outside! then shoved me out the door and locked it while laughing from the window as I cried. How you can possibly become a fully functioning adult after that, I don’t know.

Giant child eaters and nondescript undead creatures aside, the top of my fear spectrum was dominated by two hideously terrifying things. Look down at your little Sparky – that precious dog with the fluffy white fur, saucer eyes and wagging tail? That thing was a ferocious devil demon to me. I couldn’t go over to play at friends’ houses if they had a dog, or they at least had to ensure me it would be kept away at all times.

Get it away! GET IT AWAY!!

Thunderstorms were also panic-inducing. I’m not sure why – maybe it had to do with the lightening that struck one of our trees in our front yard, leaving a perfect jagged lightning bolt shape. I guess I assumed that if a tree could get hit, so could I. One of the houses I lived in as a kid had a screened in porch. My family would gather together to watch the fantastic flashes of light and hear the sounds of the booming thunder over the trees. I hid under the kitchen table.

So with such a wussy for a Mom, I assumed that Landon would also exhibit some aversions to certain childhood experiences. Maybe the closet monsters would cause him distress or perhaps the tornado sirens that go off occasionally might be cause for concern. You can understand my surprise, then, when I found out that Landon is utterly terrified of balloons.

To you it's just a harmless celebratory trinket

To Landon it looks like this

Yes, balloons. The helium-filled balls of joy that are the desire of every carnival-going kid the world over. I found this out last week while joining a friend at Chick-fil-a (pre-kid I would never have stepped foot in this place. Post-kid, I see it as it really is: The Best. Restaurant.Ever. I even used emphasis periods because that’s. how much. I mean it.). Anyway, the staff kindly asked if Landon would like a balloon like the other kids and I said yes thinking he would like it. Apparently I don’t know my child at all. He cried from the second that balloon came near him. On the way home, I even had to pull over the car to get the balloon away from him because he was freaking out so much. We still have the pathetic, deflated, non-threatening shell of a balloon wafting on the floor of our living room and every time he sees it, he crawls past it at super warp speed as if the string is going to slither around and catch his little leg.

I’m not sure what to make of this fear. Should I be grateful that his life is peaceful enough that the only thing he can find to cause him grief is a weightless piece of rubber? Or should I be concerned that my kid is headed for many days of viewing the world from inside his locker? I am also not sure how to handle this. My husband (only half kidding) suggested the “flooding” technique in which you surround a person with the object of their fear so as to inoculate themselves against it. So do we tie big bouquets of balloons on every door handle and stuff his room full of them (I’m sure my pediatrician would love that) so that everywhere he looks it’s a frightening array of creepy messages like “Over the Hill!”, “Welcome Baby Girl” and “Congrats Grad!”? That is the stuff adult therapy is made of.

I favor the ignore it and it will go away approach (it’s worked with a lot of stuff so far, I’m seeing how far I can take it). I figure we just accept it as a quirky stage of childhood and move on. Besides, it’s only a matter of time that he will find something else that will cause him great distress.

Like girls.


  1. Oh Poor Landon.I am sure it will pass. Kittens freak Wyatt out but only when the pounce toward him. Its hilarious because he is so big and they are so little. Its only Kittens not cats or HUGE dogs or even lions just kittens.

    Your brother who will remain nameless used to tell Jennie he could breathe under water and knew King Triton and Flounder from the little Mermaid. Never mean like they were to you but loved to make up stories to Jennie!

  2. Those brothers of yours are EVIL!!! I hope Jordan never participated... My brother did terrible things to me too. Dang boys!

    Landon, it's okay - Jamesy shares your fear of harmless objects! He is terrified of any stuffed animals -- no matter how small they are... Also, we just found out a few days ago at Rory's birthday at Chuck E. Cheese's that he thinks Chuck E. Cheese is Freedy Krouger. It was out of a horror movie. We had to leave the party immediately and he was traumatized for the rest of the day. The next day he was at Becky's house and he was playing with a balloon that had a picture of Chuck E. Cheese and after about a 1/2 hr. of playing with it he realized this. Becky said he was screaming and crying in terror, and the only way to calm him down was to hide the balloon and give him chocolate. Just like his Mommy.

    Don't worry! He'll grow out of it. At least, that's what everyone keeps telling me... Until then, we can share embarrassing stories with each other of our "wussy" boys :)

  3. Becky - I remember the boys telling Jennie that! It was at Julianne's wedding, wasnt it? It was either Rob or Jason. Or both.

    Ash - Fortunately, Jordan was actually also my protector. So I suppose I'm only scarred by three of the boys. Now that I think about it, a giant mouse wearing a bowler hat is pretty freaky.

  4. debbie...i will be laughing about your giant red balloon mean face all night...

    still laughing...

    yep still laughing.

  5. Deb, you are a great writer!! I love reading this. Wish it hadn't taken me so darn long.

    I hope the mean brother wasn't Jason.

    I was terrified of dogs, too. Now I love them but they still make me nervous.

    Benji is positively terrified of dogs, so much so that the first thing he asks when we go anywhere new is: Do they have a dog? It's sad.

    Childhood fears are one of the unexplainables.