MJ seems to have hit a new developmental stage. I’m sure it’s normal. It probably even has a name — something like: “juvenilis phobiosis.” That’s bad Latin for “scared kid.” Whatever it’s called, though, it’s a doozy. In the last week she has been afraid — even petrified — of:
- a bouncy house
- a man playing a bongo drum
- the word “zippy”
- the second half of a book called “Ten Apples Up On Top”
- a leaf blower
- taking a poop
- her own father, when dressed as the Easter Bunny
This last one is somewhat understandable. Even Mike thought he looked scary when he put on the costume for my MOMS Club Easter picnic yesterday. He texted me from the bathroom right after he changed into it :
Costume shows face. Look like Manson in a bunny outfit.
Of course most of his audience had no idea who Charles Manson is. Still, an Easter Bunny with long hair, glasses, and a big brown beard isn’t exactly every toddler’s cup of tea. Add to that my husband’s rather, um, interpretive approach to his job, and you’ll understand why MJ was far from the only child to flee at his approach. Oh, many loved him, alright. But it wasn’t a total shocker when one mother approached him and said “Mr. Bunny? Stay away from my daughter. You’re scaring the hell out of her.”
So that fear made sense. But MJ is suddenly deathly afraid of everything. Everything except for the streetlight, of course, as that is now fixed. And weirdly, the start of this whole phase coincided roughly with that very event. Perhaps my well-intentioned meddling had the opposite effect from the one looked for. Maybe MJ was able to channel all of her fears into that one buzzing light fixture. When it got repaired, they flew out, a la Pandora’s Box, and glided to a landing everywhere her mental landscape offered a flat surface.
Well, what’s done is done. I can’t break what’s fixed. Nor would I if I could. After all, I can finally sleep!
But what to do about MJ? The noise phobia I can handle. Leaf blower next door? Don’t go outside. Man playing drums? Leave the room. Loud bouncy house? Ditch gym class. Some of the other fears, though, are harder. Gophers, for example. She’s never even seen one. She merely heard them mentioned in a conversation down at the park. Now they’re a thing. What do you do about that one? Wear a big sign: “Excuse Me World! Ixnay on the Ophersgay!”
The worst, however, is the poop. Being afraid of one’s own eliminatory process is, needless to say, a pretty unworkable proposition. Since MJ developed this fear, about a week ago, she has managed to constipate herself to a pretty incredible degree. Move over Peptol Bismol! You need to put a cork in it? Ask my daughter.
I have tried to explain to MJ that this cannot go on. I have told her repeatedly that poop is a good — nay, an excellent — and very necessary thing. I have sung its praises. Literally. I have read her poop books. I have tried wheedling. I — and I’m not proud of it — even attempted to bribe her with her favorite food. Which is, ironically, a Fiber Bar. None of this worked.
I called my mother. I told her the trouble. She seemed unconcerned.
“Just leave her alone,” she said, a little chidingly. “Stop harping on it.”
First of all. I am not a harper. Do I harp? Have you ever heard me harp? I am many things, but a harper? No. Except right now. Maybe I am harping on this harping thing. But usually…
OK fine. Maybe I’ve been harping a little. And maybe I’m getting impatient. Maybe, when MJ asks to sit on the potty again so she can “poop” — which I put in quotation marks because she will do anything but — when what she really wants is to have me sit on the toilet next to her and read her “Blueberries For Sal” for the umpteenth time — I have really come to hate that book — maybe I am being too hard on her. Maybe I should not worry about being “manipulated” by a two-year-old. Maybe this is how potty training starts — a fear of excrement coupled with an obsession with Robert McCloskey books. Maybe, on the other hand, I am not doing enough. Maybe I should be harping more! Maybe if I don’t harp MJ is going to end up in the emergency room with impacted fecal matter. She will have to have surgery. All the doctors will look at me disapprovingly and say:
“Why did you not make her poop?”
Clearly I’m a little stressed out about this. No one likes their kid to be stopped up. Not a parent? If you were you would understand.
I know. I have to let it go. She’s going to be fine. She’ll poop when she’s ready. And then she’ll get scared of something else. She’s going to be afraid. She’s going to act like a kook. All I can do is love her, protect her, hold her and soothe her. And I do those things. Every day.
But I can also rope in a different volunteer for the Easter Bunny next time. With all of this fear going around, Myra-Jean needs both of her parents in play.
And in the worst case scenario? There’s always ex-lax.