When you're the parent of a toddler or little kid, you never can tell what they'll run toward and what will send them running for the hills. One day they're begging you to buy up all the balloons in aisle six of the supermarket; the next they're screaming bloody murder at every children's birthday party they attend. Their fears come and go as quickly as any other phase they go through -- still, you have to wonder what runs through their little minds. How can you love ice cream and hate the Ice Cream Man? And just why do they have obscenely strong opinions about male facial hair at age 2?
Here are 10 things kids should either like, or at the very least feel neutral about, that can actually fill them with terror.
- The Ice Cream Man -- Is it the grating music that irritates them? The fact that he comes unexpectedly -- at least in my neighborhood -- and could pop up on the block anytime between 6 and 10 p.m.? Or is it simply that he doesn't follow the rules of logic, as set by the main man in my daughter's life -- daddy -- who thinks ice cream is the devil's manna? Whatever it is, my toddler is deathly afraid of the Ice Cream Man, but will happily accept free ice cream from any other stranger on the street.
- Clowns -- Holy crap, do I not blame any child afraid of these psychotic symbols of mania. Their exaggerated features and wild expressions usually make them the least liked characters in the circus -- yet Barnum & Bailey insist on keeping them around.
- The toilet and shower drain -- Many toddlers, mine included, go through a period where they refuse to sit in the bath. Totally annoying because you have to think about how you're going to wash their hair while keeping them from slipping and landing on their heads. But if you put yourself in their shoes and understand they think they're about to be swallowed alive by a drain the size of their fist, it makes a tad bit more sense. Ditto for the toilet bowl -- which they really could (mine has) fall through. Try not to laugh when this happens.
- Newspapers -- Some parents have told me their young children make it impossible for them to keep newspapers in the house. They can't tolerate the crinkly sound and smell. You didn't really need to know what was going on in the world, did you?
- Dolls -- At some point in my childhood, I remember one of my grandmother's antique dolls, one with curly red hair and a vicious Clara Bow mouth, sent chills up my spine. Turns out there's actually something called Pediophobia, which is when kids can't separate their dolls from humans and associate them with scary things.
- Balloons -- They're colorful and fun until they pop. Then they transform into awful little novelty items that are so unpredictable, they could turn on you without warning.
- Every single character from Alice in Wonderland -- Depending on the version of Alice in Wonderland your child reads or watches, he or she is witnessing a sweet, innocent girl deal with a druggie caterpillar, creepy Cheshire Cat who messes with her head by disappearing and leaving his teeth behind, and the needlessly nasty Queens of Hearts. I love the book, but think I'll wait a few years before letting my daughter explore Lewis Carroll's world.
- Many characters/scenes from their "innocent" children's books -- My daughter has become interested in princesses so we read Snow White together for the first time the other night. Everything was going great until she became fixated on the page where Snow White is lying in a freaking coffin. Yep, worst mom ever.
- People wearing glasses -- I get that children don't like masks or anything that appears to be covering our true faces, but haven't eyeglasses become so ubiquitous that they no longer count as different? Why can't kids get on board with this already?
- Men with beards -- Again, a common sight that shouldn't even get a rise out of a toddler or young child. The funny thing about this fear is that it can evolve. At first full beards may be the problem, then just goatees, and then back to full beards with the addition of the mustache. Thanks for making trips on the elevator easy, kid.
What are the oddest fears your child has ever had?
Image via cytoon/Flickr