Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Possessed Train and Other Scary Toys

So I guess irrational fears start at age two because Mateo now has a fear of anything with a face (not people, just objects .... well, maybe some people). Especially the items below. It started with a possessed train my mom gave him last year for his birthday. Of course, at the time it was not scary at all and seemed to be the best thing that had ever graced the earth. Since I rotate the toys frequently the train made it to the attic for a few months only to magically reappear a couple weeks ago. This time, Thomas was not the favorite toy, but something of the devil. Mateo handed me the train and frantically said, "up, up, up" and pointed to counter. He did not want it anywhere near his toys or where it could "get him". To be fair, it is definitely at the top of the freaky toy list. When it's off, its eyes are closed, but when you turn it on the eyes slowly open and it starts moving toward you. From a little kid's perspective, that's equivalent to watching that creepy girl's head turn on the Exorcist. Here's a picture to give you a better idea.

innocent enough

freakily possessed

So, Thomas the Possessed Train kicked off the irrational fear phase. The next item that became a problem is this clock.

It's been in his room since he came home 14 months ago. Did you get that? 14 months ago! And he has never noticed it before. But all of the sudden he woke up from nap one day and told me he was scared of it. Mateo doesn't really talk well yet (because of his speech delay) but he has this thing he does when he's scared. It's hard to describe but basically he opens his eyes real big, puts his hands "stick-em-up style", and shakes his head and hands back and forth while saying, eh, eh. People who don't know him think he's having a seizure. So I tried to explain that it was a clock and fake and not scary at all, but he would have no part of it. Again, to be fair, it is kinda freaky-looking, especially since it's right above his bed, looking around while he's sleeping. What is that thing looking at anyway? I'm not trying to traumatize him or give him nightmares, I honestly thought it was cute. Guess I was wrong. So, into the closet goes the clock. I thought I would be sly a week later and put it back on the wall thinking he wouldn't notice. But it took him all of 10 minutes to realize it was there. And that time he told me specifically to put it back into the closet. So now this fear has translated into any object with a face.

Here are some other things that have recently topped the scary list.

Ironically, he's not scared of the easter bunny, who, to me, looked like something out of Watership Down that might try to knaw his head off. Last year he wanted nothing to do with Santa. This year he was scared but tolerated it because I told him he could have chocolate chips if he sat on Santa's lap and said "cheese". So he followed those instructions to a tee in order to get his candy. I am telling you, bribery with candy is the unspoken gem of parenting tips no one ever told me. And I am so happy Mateo is old enough for it to work now and I only pray it continues to work just a few years longer.

As for the train, we conquered that fear using a classic psychotherapy technique (Freudian, I think) called "Scare the Crap out of Your Child, Then Laugh at Him." You're probably thinking what kind of horrible mother am I to purposefully scare my child with a possessed toy train? To which I say...... it was so freakin' funny! No, seriously, it's not funny.... no, I can't lie. It is funny. Seriously, you weren't there. It was so funny! I egged him on to go touch the train, so he would very quietly, as if sneaking up on it, go towards it, and when he got close I would yell, "Watch Out!" The first few times he had a look of terror on his face then came running to me on the couch. But after he saw me crack up laughing (I'm telling you it was funny!) he started laughing too. Then it became a game. After he realized it was funny (it was!), the train became harmless to him. So, there, I'm not a bad parent after all! There was a method to the madness and it worked. Maybe I should try that with the clock.

What are your kids afraid of or what were you afraid of as a kid?


Rachel said...

I have always thought Thomas was creepy. I never enjoyed the TV show when I was little and always kept my distance from the toys. It has something to do with the ghostly gray face and big black eyes. There is nothing cute about that train. Maybe they should give his face a little color and some irises for his eyes.

Anonymous said...

Holly Hobit freaked me out. Those dolls turned to the side where their bonnets covered their face--totally weird and I had a room decked out in those things.

Bergmama said...

My oldest son was always completely freaked out by any toy that moved on it's own...it started with a Chicken-Dance Elmo he got for Christmas one year. Both of my boys have also hated Santa and the Easter Bunny. I'm hoping this year we can get a little closer to Santa. Last year we couldn't even get in eye-sight.