Mommy Magic

Phobias are very real to the person experiencing them, especially when that person is five ...

My youngest daughter has developed several phobias recently that I'm trying to help her deal with. The major one involves a fear of storms after having experienced several serious thunder-boomers this summer. If she sees one slightly dark cloud, notices the wind tipping the beach umbrella a little too far in one direction, or hears a passing truck that resembles the sound of thunder she panics.

A healthy respect for thunderstorms is obviously warranted as evidenced by the tragic death of a 16-year-old on a boat with his family near Topsail Island last weekend. The goal as parents however is to balance that fear with calm, reasonable tactics for staying out of harms way. My mother is deathly afraid of thunderstorms, so was her mother, so I guess I can blame it on the family tree.

This week a new one cropped up that I have no frame of reference for. She ran into my room in the middle of the night literally shaking and told me she was too afraid to talk. Hours later after wrapping her little body tightly around mine like a a baby octopus she told me her room was full of alligators. She said she could see their shadows, the whites of their teeth and the shiny glint in their eyes. She told me that she had to carefully tiptoe over them like she was walking through a minefield in order to get to my room. It was clear to me that she wasn't making up the story. To her it felt very real.

For some reason my room is an alligator-free zone. She attributes this to something she calls "Mommy Magic." Apparently her sister's room (where I suggested she might sleep instead) is also alligator infested. So for now I have her in my room. I guess I need to start watching The Discovery Channel to figure out what to do about the damn alligators ...


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