Kiddo has a fear of both feathers and birds. This seems to have come out of nowhere (although I’m very willing to blame a Barbie movie with Kelsey Grammar in it) and it now would appear to be getting worse.
One day last month, we were on the beach, and we had opted for a snack bar lunch on this particular day. It was of the incredibly (un)healthy variety, and included french fries and mozzarella sticks. Kiddo and I went and got a table to wait for the rest of our family to join us from the snack bar. No sooner did I put the freaking food down when the biggest seagull you’ve ever seen swooped down on us like a winged gangster and stole not one, but TWO piping hot mozzarella sticks. Now, the German tourists who were watching this found it hilarious, even when Kiddo began screaming, shaking and crying with a force and energy I had never seen from her before. She was frozen stiff, scared to death. My sister had just stepped out toward the table and Kiddo made a break for her. It took us a while to calm her down, and even longer to persuade her to go back to the beach. But when she DID go back, she was now also afraid of the waves in a sharper, more phobic way.
I love birds. I think they’re awesome. A friend had birds while I had cats. Her birds were all messed up mentally because she hadn’t spent enough time with them, and when I’d sleep over, they’d break out of their cages and hop around on my face. I just wanted to take them all home, but the cat thing made it unrealistic. When I found out I needed surgery for what I was told was breast cancer (and which wasn’t, thank God/Goddess), I ended up wandering around NYC in a zombie like fugue. I ended up in a pet store where I found a Sun Conure that I fell so deeply love with that I harrassed my husband over and over again to go and buy him with me. I’d go into the store, he’d go crazy, roll around on the bottom of the cage while I stroked his tummy, he fell asleep on my finger once, and the shop people offered me their employee discount because the bond was so great. He did end up being purchased by a nice man, but I hated him with jealousy for a year for good measure.
This fear is so difficult to understand for me, but I’m trying. Yesterday we went to an Italian festival/carnival out on Long Island, and they had an animal station type of thing. It was the nicest “petting zoo” I’d ever seen, because they didn’t give you pellets, they gave you fresh lettuce and carrots to feed the animals. They had baby pigs, llamas, turtles, lizards, a dwarfish cow, bunnies, guinea pigs and a few other adorable animals, as well as some baby chickens. Yeah. Baby chickens. They had mixed up some of the animals in a few spots and when I said “look honey, baby guinea pigs!” there were also some baby guinea hens and chickens. Rigid. White in the face. Screams. She was not right on top of the booth – she had space. She was terrified. I didn’t know what the hell to do. I could see she was scaring the animals, so I had concern for both she and them. I lifted her up and put her over the fence to my sister and husband. She calmed down and went on a pony ride. I stayed with the animals for a while longer because I wanted to make sure I didn’t react with annoyance or anger. It was eye-opening. Many parents weren’t really interested in the animals, so I ended up showing the kids how to feed them and playing with the animals. It broke my heart that I couldn’t show Kiddo.
So, what’s next? Therapy? Will she outgrow this? Ugh. You know, she’s also very shy and finds it difficult to talk to new people, but she heard me say something complimentary about a young woman I saw with some interesting tattoo work, and she said “Mama, let me go and tell her you like the tattoos. I’ll give her your card!” I said how awesome it would be, and she did an amazing job.
Tomorrow, First Grade begins, and I know it’s tearing her up inside. Mama and Papa were home most of the summer with her, so it was kind of idyllic for her (for me, it was a dream come true.) But life is going to change now and all I can offer her is a lavender bath tonight with fresh jammies, and a new school outfit for tomorrow that her aunt is buying for her as we speak. Advice is welcome. So is criticism. I need some help. I love this kiddo!
Oh, and thanks for listening.