Wednesday, August 01, 2007,8:32 AM
Adventures in Parenting
On a perhaps not lighter, but at least different note...

So this is what it means to be a mom...

Yesterday Mike was watching Emma down in the basement while I got to take an uninterrupted shower. As I was getting dressed, I hear them come upstairs and Emma is screaming hysterically. I run out to find her wailing with her hands wrapped up inside of her shirt. Whenever she gets hurt she wraps up the hurt in a blanket or something, so I knew something must have happened to her hands. Mike had no clue what had happened. He had seen her pulling one of the toy bins off the shelf then hide her hands and start screaming. It took a long time for us to extract her hands as she thrashed, and kicked, and flailed about so as to ascertain that there were no visible cuts or bites. Had she broken something? Sprained something? I started rocking her and singing to her to calm her down. After about the 300th verse of Itsey Bitsey Spider, she fell asleep with her hands still clutched tightly under her shirt. She slept for a couple of hours and awoke still hiding her hand and refusing to let us see them. At this point I was wondering if we should go to the ER or something. Finally we tempted her with mac n' cheese and she eventually started using her hands again. We kept trying to ask her what had happened, but she wouldn't say anything. Nothing appeared to be wrong with her hands, so by this point we were really mystified. After lunch I tried to take her back downstairs to play and she freaked out again. knowing that something downstairs had hurt or scared her, (evil parents that we are) we picked her up and took her downstairs. Once down there, she crawled up on the couch, clutched her hands, and started screaming about a snake. We went to the basket she had pulled out earlier and sure enough there was a rubber snake in it. Mike had to make a big scene about getting rid of the snake in order to calm her down. She clung to me for at least an hour afterwards and continued to ask throughout the day if the snake was gone.

I have no idea what has caused Emma to have this intense fear of snakes. We were at the point of taking her to the ER because she was so hysterical about her hands not being touched. But it was all because she accidentally touched a toy snake. So is this a serious issue? Something she will grow out of? Oh my goodness it freaked me out. Oh the joys of parenting...

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posted by Julie at 8:32 AM ¤ Permalink ¤


  • At 8/01/2007 09:21:00 AM, Blogger Andrew

    She is just being careful to clarify her distaste for snakes so she never would be considered for Slytherin house. :)

  • At 8/01/2007 09:23:00 AM, Blogger Erin

    My boys went through the same thing with spiders. As toddlers, it was just like you described. Nowadays there isn't the hysteria but they still try to get me to come kill spiders for them - except I think now they are afraid of spiders simply out of habit. (PS I don't kill them except on rare occasions. Usually I catch them and set them free outside.)

    I don't know what to tell you about how to assuage her fears - nothing I've tried has worked for the fear of spiders. But I think it's normal for toddlers to have things they have an unfounded fear of.

  • At 8/01/2007 09:24:00 AM, Blogger Erin

    Wish I'd thought of what Andrew said ;-)

  • At 8/01/2007 09:48:00 AM, Blogger Mike Clawson

    I still have to do the same thing for Julie regarding spiders. :)

  • At 8/01/2007 10:33:00 AM, Anonymous sonja

    One thing I've found to be helpful with my kids when they freak out about anything is to act very matter-of-fact about whatever the issue is. I just downplay the whole thing, don't call attention to it, don't bring it up unless they do, generally ignore it. Then when the thing (whatever it is) does appear on the horizon, I treat it as common and nothing to be afraid of. I don't force them to unafraid of it. But I don't get all over it either.

    So ... if I'd had something like that happen. I'd just keep reassuring her that the snake is gone, that it's a toy and nothing to be afraid of and that she's safe in her playroom. That no matter what else, she's always safe in her playroom, that's what you're there for as her parents ... to make sure her play areas are safe. You would never put something yucky like a real snake in her toy box. But ... I'd only answer the questions she asks as she asks them. Which is hard to do, because we think so much further ahead than kids do. Lots of snuggles and playing and reading with favorite toys should be helpful.

    Yes ... she will grow out of it! She may even surprise you one day by being very interested in snakes. Or not.

  • At 8/01/2007 10:40:00 AM, Anonymous sonja

    Oh and btw ... it doesn't end as they get older.

    You may recall that my daughter (13) is dealing with a knee injury right now. It's not too serious, but it's going to take some perseverance to recover.

    This morning she came downstairs and said, worriedly, "Mom, I've got a welt on my kneecap. I don't know where it came from." She showed it to me and began taking her brace off and I began asking her questions about it, what it felt like, etc. In my mind, I began freaking out, envisioning another dr's visit and now a new diagnosis, possibly surgery, etc. Definitely leukemia! Where on earth could this welt have come from ...

    ... when she said, "Oh and it really itches too." It was a BUG BITE!!! LOL ... so my policy of maintaining a cool facade paid off. But ... OMG.

  • At 8/01/2007 02:52:00 PM, Blogger Julie

    Andrew - that's awesome.

    Erin & Sonja - it will help now that we know what the issue is. It just was freaky when we had no idea what was happening. At 2 1/2 she isn't always very verbal!

  • At 8/01/2007 08:49:00 PM, Anonymous Joe Martino

    My oldest daughter (4) is afraid of being alone or in the dark. This is problematic at night as she has a bed time that is earlier than my own or my wife's. The best thing I have found to help her is praying with her. We pray that Jesus will have His angels watch over her, that He'll take the bad dreams away and send good one's.

  • At 8/02/2007 10:21:00 AM, Blogger rindy

    Don't ya just love trying to figure out what is going on with kids sometimes--that's the most frustrating part of parenting. That may not get any better (try to figure out why a teen is upset and won't talk--could be huge or that he had a pimple and someone commented!). The fear of snakes may or may not change--either way as she gets older she can understand it a little more. btw--I still jump on countertops and scream when I see a mouse!


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