A couple of weeks ago my husband and I decided to take little E out for an afternoon of good, honest (and cheap) fun. We gathered up some butterfly nets and a bug catcher; we packed a few drinks, a few snacks and his Bugs of Ontario book and off we went. Our little guy loves bugs and all things creepy crawly so for him, this was the best idea we'd had in a while. We found ourselves the perfect meadow out behind Langdon Hall that was full of milkweed and monarchs... a prime bug catching location.
Our first find was a tiny little tree frog. We scooped him up and put him in our catcher. Things were moving along nicely and little E was getting more and more excited. When we found a big leopard frog things got even better. Then we started walking through the tall grass of the meadow in an attempt to catch ourselves a monarch, or better yet, find ourselves a caterpillar so we could bring him home and "grow" our own monarch butterfly.
E and my hubby went one way through the meadow and I decided to go off on my own... BIG MISTAKE... HUGE! After being on my own for a few minutes, I decided to go and join up with my 2 guys. I was walking along and suddenly stopped in my tracks just shy of walking through a big spider web. I saw the web and thought to myself "wow, that's a big web... I'm glad I didn't walk through it and get it all over my legs". At that point, I looked once more at the big web and realized that sitting right in the middle of it was the biggest, blackest spider I've EVER seen in my life. I can only compare it to the size of the base of a cupcake. It was huge. The body alone was about the size of a quarter.
I've always known I was afraid of spiders, but that day in the meadow, I realized I was more than afraid. I have a true phobia. For a moment I was frozen. Everything started spinning around me. I thought I was going to either throw up or pass out. And then the screaming started. I literally screamed and started crying hysterically and running through the meadow like I was being chased by an axe murderer. The whole time my little boy was yelling "Mummy, what's wrong? Mummy, what's wrong?"
I think my "freakout" session probably lasted no more than 10 or 15 seconds, but it was just long enough to really make my 4 year old scared and upset. When I stopped, I realized that I had done something that I have always promised myself I wouldn't do... I've always said that I would try my absolute best not to relay any of my fears onto my child. I don't like spiders or snakes or roller coasters, but there's no rational reason why he shouldn't. I can quite honestly say that I felt a ton of shame that afternoon at my behaviour. The last thing I want to do is make my son afraid, but I can also tell you that I couldn't help it. Fears are irrational and our reactions are often uncontrollable.
I did do my best to calm little E down and make him not afraid. I did a lot of talking about how Mummy is afraid of spiders but that I'm just silly and there's no real reason to be afraid. Hopefully our talks did the trick because the last thing I want to do is instil my silly fears in him. I'm curious to know how other people deal with this with their kids. Did I do okay with it (after I calmed down)? Ideas/suggestions are always welcome! In the meantime, I'm just going to stay out of the meadow and enjoy the monarchs from the peace of my backyard!