I think it’s fairly well established that spiders are awesome. They eat nasty things, they make beautiful, intricate webs and are “more scared of you” than you should be of them (in the UK, anyway).
And while I agree with all of the above, it comes with a *.
*as long as they are not anywhere near me, especially in the same room.
I’m not afraid (as such). I can catch them in a glass and set them free without too much trauma but some of the hysteria resulting from growing up with a mum who is utterly terrified of them – to the point where if she knows one is downstairs she won’t be able to sleep upstairs for fear of it finding her in her bed – has rubbed off on me.
I’m not knocking her fear – substitute spiders for wasps and you have me – but it was one of those things where I made a conscious decision, pre-baby, to pro-actively make sure she wasn’t scared of either of them…
…which appears to have already backfired.
On Sunday, my husband, Patrick*, noticed a spider crawling up the living room door. Seeing this as a chance to begin introducing Freya to the world of arachnids, I picked her up and took her over, all the while singing “Incy Wincy” and being as jolly as possible.
Pat pointed at it, then jiggled the door so it moved. Freya took one look and practically leapt from my arms to run away.
“Noooo,” I cooed. “It’s a lovely spider. Nice spidy, good spidy.” but she was having none of it.
Her eyes went big and round, the same way they go when the shapes from Mister Maker appear on tele and she is about to burst into tears. Can you be born with arachnophobia? And fear of circles? (I actually Googled that sentence to see if it had a proper name and it came back with this).
Pat, who was on board with the whole ‘don’t make her afraid’ scheme, and I looked at each other and shrugged in a sort of “What on earth do we do now?” kind of way.
It was decided that daddy would catch it and release it, with Freya watching (although she had her head buried into my neck for some of it).
“The spider’s gone to play with his friends,” I said, in a hopeful tone, but for the last two days, at regular five minute intervals, she has pointed high up the door, clearly worried, and said: “Look. That.”
“Yes, darling,” I respond, followed by variations of: “The spider has gone now.”
“Outside,” she says, somewhat forlornly.
Well that went well.
And it’s not the first time my attempts at actual pro-active parenting have fallen flat. I should have learned a lesson from what is known as “The Ninky Nonk”.
Remembering my nephew was terrified of the vacuum cleaner, for as long as Freya has been alert I have told her ours is the Ninky Nonk from In The Night Garden, which must be her all time favourite programme.
This worked really well…for a while. Before she was mobile I would drag it out of the cupboard and sing: “Here comes the Ninky Nonk” which would get smiles, a little bum shuffle and hand clapping.
Since she started walking, I’m lucky if I can get near the thing because she is smothering it with love. She sits on it, sings to it, pulls it along and hugs the tube – all while I am trying to clean the carpet. (And no, it’s not just an excuse I use not to clean. Honest.)
I suppose the moral of the story is don’t try and force things – just act normal (which is hard, for me at least).
Have any of your attempts at actual pro-active parenting backfired? Also, any tips for dealing with the spider/circle/vacuum cleaner issues?
* His name isn’t Patrick but I thought I’d call him that in honour of St Patrick’s Day, as I have an Irish ancestor and an Irish name.
Linking up with Rosie for this week’s Animal Tales.