When my son was 3 years old, he came to see me while I was doing laundry. Standing 2 feet from me with his hand closed in a fist, a proud smile on his sweet handsome face, he joyfully announced, “Mommy, laylee bug.”
I saw 1-inch antenna poking out between his little fingers and I knew he was not holding a ladybug.
After 15 years of living in Texas, I knew tree roaches. And I knew them well. I knew they were not poisonous and could survive a nuclear holocaust. I strangely respected them, but I definitely didn’t like them.
My mother had a horrible, almost paralyzing, fear of roaches.
In an instant I decided I would not pass this phobia onto my son.
“Oh, you have a ladybug,” I calmly said. (In truth, it was that ‘fake calm’ that I hoped would trick my guileless child.)
“Look, laylee bug on the head,” he said uncurling his little fist. I watched in horror as the tree roach crawled up his arm and he picked it up and put it on his head.
It took everything in my power not to scream. DO. NOT. SCREAM.
“That’s so great. Can you please put the ladybug outside in the bushes?”
He took the tree roach off his head and lovingly rested it on one of the azalea bushes.
Over the years he has perfected his insect removing skills. He can even catch and remove flies. He does it with a glass and a piece of paper. It’s remarkable.
My point in this story is that despite my own fears, I could remain calm and teach my son a different reaction.
As moms, dads, caregivers, and teachers, I think we all must learn to do this.
If I can, anyone can.