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.”