Zachary has developed a fear of television.  Ever since the afternoon we stopped by our neighbors’ house and their five-year-old was watching Hannah Montana, in which some magician scared the living crap out of my son, he has been terrified of TVs.

This might sound like a great phobia for one’s child to have.  After all, how better to reduce the screen time than to have a kid who shudders with fear at the mere sight of a flat screen?  However, there are two exceptions to Zach’s telephobia: his home TV and the one at Grandma’s house.  He has come to the conclusion that those televisions are to be trusted, as the adults have carefully pre-screened whatever we Tivo for him.

If his terror of televisions does nothing to reduce his passion for the tube at home, it has rendered his a ball of nerves the rest of the time.  Until you have lived with a five-year-old who quakes in his Keens every time he sees a television, you just cannot possibly realize how ubiquitous they are.  Not only are they found in Denny’s and Target, but they slip a little security monitor up onto the wall at Whole Foods, as well.  It is rough convincing the poor child that it is just a video of the front door and nothing frightening is likely to pop up, unless some dude gets hopped up on gluten and robs the joint.  We had a close call at the bike shop when we went to replace the stroller tire, but the guys there patiently explained that their set could not possibly suddenly display scenes of blood and gore, as it was completely busted.

Mind you, his brother is not much better.  Just last week, I took Benjamin hiking, which in L.A. seems to involve panting up dusty hillsides, trudging from one patch of shade to another through the scorching sun, all the while keeping an eye out for poisonous snakes and mountain lions.  Benjamin was all psyched up, hoping to see some animals, having announced to me that morning, “If I see any scary animals, I’ll shout ‘Go away, Sam!’”

No, I do not know why the animals were all to be named Sam.

As we hiked, I was a bit on edge, having a strong antipathy towards slithery animals with fangs, but it was completely silent as we made our sweaty way through the hillside.  That is, until a three-inch lizard came darting across the path, making us both jump.  Ben screamed in terror, refused to take another step forward, and looked around anxiously all the way to the bottom, where he spent twenty minutes sitting at a picnic table, happily watching a mole climb in an out of a hole.

For the rest of the day, he would periodically furrow his brow and say, “That hiking was not good.  I don’t like the lizards.  Why the gorillas far, far away?”

OK, so hiking and television are out.  That’s OK, because fortunately, there is still Disneyland.  With a little research, we are able to plan the perfect day trip, assiduously avoiding Snow White but enjoying the pleasures of that silly boat that goes into the mouth of the whale.  We had such a day together on Sunday, even managing to bring the baby along, although she did sleep through all of A Bug’s Land. We have season passes, so I plan on going back again with the boys in a few weeks.

“You know,” I told my husband on the ride home, “I think when I take the boys in two weeks, we’ll keep just to Adventureland and Frontierland, since we didn’t get to those today.”

“Sounds good,” he whispered, trying not to wake the snoring three-year-old and silent baby in the middle row.

“And maybe I can actually convince them to go to The Pirates of the Caribbean.

“I don’t think that’s such a good idea,” he replied.  “They’re kind of fearful right now.”

“Oh, I think it’ll be OK,” I responded.  “I’m pretty sure there aren’t any televisions or lizards.

14 responses to “Fear

  1. Oh dear. We had velociraptors (thank you Spielberg) and volcanoes (thank you natural history museum with realistic lava room). As the kids walked to school (through the Alaska dark) the velociraptor fear was well exercised while the volcano fear only emerged now and then. Televisions and hiking through are far, far harder to avoid, poor kids!

  2. Awww–I’m glad you enjoyed Disneyland at least.

  3. There just isn’t anything good about Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus, is there?

    Jazmyn loved animals until she was almost three, and then all of a sudden squirrels and pigeons freaked her out. It’s only been in the last few years that she’s been able to see a dog and not run into the street.

    We went to Pirates of the Caribbean when she was almost four. She screamed the entire time. Have fun!

  4. Very sadly for my my 4-year-old LOVES Hannah Montana. Because my 4-year-old is also named Hannah. I didn’t know about the connection, and had no idea about the world of pain I was in for, when I chose the name.

    I’m glad you were able to avoid the various triggers and enjoy Disneyland with the kids. Really, if anyplace should cater to preschoolers that would be it.

  5. Damned straight you should avoid Snow White. The last time we were there I convinced Angus to go on it on the grounds that it would be a sissy little baby ride (or something like that). Boy, did I have a lot of apologizing to do. Later my sister said “What the hell is wrong with you? Do you not remember us going on it when we were like twelve and it scaring the crap out of us?” Well, yeah, I just wanted to have an enormous nine-year-old quivering on top of me the whole time.

    Angus used to be afraid of sock fluff. Eve would complain that she was afraid of monsters every night. When we finally convinced her there were no monsters she said “are there frogs? Then I’m afraid of frogs!”

  6. Personally, I am the one afraid of Disneyland/world so I am impressed that you are up for making mulitple visits there & your kids must be thrilled.

  7. Ok, I was absolutely TERRIFIED of the ride that went into the whale’s mouth. I still remember screaming the whole time. And Snow White is scary, agreed. Pirates has a couple of good-sized drops these days, though – just a heads-up.

    Do they like Peter Pan? That was one of my favorites when I was little. The whole flying thing, and all. And Buzz Lightyear with the laser tags might be fun (though possibly too noisy). Finding Nemo is supposed to be good but those lines are SO. FREAKIN’. LONG.

    There’s a lot of good stuff for kids over at CA Adventure, too. Are your passes good at both parks? If not, let me know, and I might be able to score some free tickets from time to time. 🙂

  8. Ben was terrified of Smoke Detectors for a year or so. It.was.torture.

  9. thegreenlife04

    Asher was afraid of cows and barns for a while. Again, you just don’t realize how many toys/books/commercials/etc. have cows in them until you’re living with a toddler who is afraid of them.

  10. when we first took (then 5 year old) MQ to Disneyland she LOVED pirates of the caribbean. she kept asking to do “yo ho yo ho” again.

  11. I wonder if there is a scientific word for the fear of televisions? Tubeophobia?

  12. kids are so weird. I kind of love it.

  13. Cheeky Monkey

    irrational fears: how i love them. but pirates of the Caribbean *is* kind of scary. it terrified me when i was 13. yup, 13. i am all kinds of brave, obviously.

  14. Methinks dealing with fearful things is much better than shielding children from them. Life is full of fearful things at all ages; we either learn to deal rationally with them or we spend life in a fetal position. Seems to me that is part of what being a parent is all about – guiding through, not around, the unavoidable.