Phobias and Parenting

Rain aside, I love this time of year. When the air gradually starts to feel cooler, then crisper, the leaves start to change and you can sometimes smell the wood smoke from fires when you step outside.

There’s something about early autumn that makes me think of fresh starts, new possibilities, something really good being just around the corner, and not just Christmas.

But there’s one tiny, or increasingly big this year as it turns out, thing I really, REALLY hate about it – and that’s spiders.

I’ve always been terrified of the eight-legged scuttling hairy monsters, with their ability to leap out at you from nowhere scaring you ****less, the marathon speed at which they run, their horrible beady eyes on stalky antennas. Just describing them is making me feel anxious and my skin start to crawl!

And yes I’ve heard all those ‘helpful’ comments about how much bigger I am than them, how much more scared they are of me, blah blah etc – but quite frankly I just don’t buy it.

It’s the one thing I disagree over with one of my oldest and closest friends. She actually feels sorry for the spiders and, wait for it, scoops them up in her bare hands no matter how enormous the beast. It’s just not normal!

I used to get her to come round to my flat many years back, pre hubby, to dispose of them for me. Pathetic I know.

It’s not as bad as my other oldest and closest friend though. She once slept in the communal hallway outside her flat to avoid a huge spider specimen. She was also known to hoover them up at 3am which, as you can imagine, made her hugely popular with the other residents.

Anyway every year I hope (and pray) that I’ve gotten away with it, before they start migrating back in. But this year the menace has grown to unprecedented levels.

Firstly there’s millions more of the buggers, and secondly they all seem to be on spider steroids because they are bloody massive!

And I know it’s not just me because there have been various stories in the nationals about super-sized spiders on the rampage. How reassuring!

Thing is though, when it was just me to worry about I could choose to have a minor panic attack at the sight of one and lock myself in the bathroom until hubby got home. But now there’s Mini-me and Blue-eyed boy to consider.

Mini-me is actually a world champion ‘spider spotter’. She has a sixth sense for their malevolent lurking and will scream reports up the stairs until I come running armed with rubber gloves, pest spray and a super-sized saucepan.

Yes like her mum she isn’t a fan. Although she was fine until the day, several years back, when I had a screaming fit having found one of the fat little beasts crawling over her in her cot.

Yes I am to blame for her (apparently unhealthy) fear of them. Something which the other half hasn’t let me forget, and which I do feel very guilty about.

This is why I am now trying to employ new spider tactics – namely attempting to swallow any shrieks of terror, maintain a calm speaking voice and trying to rapidly and efficiently dispose of them. After all the last thing I want is for Blue-eyed boy to start being scared of spiders too.

It’s got me thinking about those everyday phobias most of us parents have – whether of heights, lifts or other enclosed spaces, wasps or even clowns – and how tricky it is to ensure we don’t pass them onto our offspring.

After all you don’t immediately shrug off every fear you’ve grown to have over a lifetime, no matter how ridiculous, just because you’ve started a family.

For me the facts are simple. I hate spiders, I will always hate spiders, and the best I can do is try to live with my irrational feelings while protecting my kids from developing the same.

And if I can trap the little sods under something, weigh it down with a couple of books and leave for hubby to get rid of when he gets home at night then hopefully I’m not doing too badly.

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Starting School (For The Second Time)

So you know the time trick of not fully realising you’ve entered a ‘New Family Phase’ until you’re actually immersed in one?

I’m not explaining it very well (blame the frazzled brain matter) but those of you with kids will hopefully know what I mean.

It happens when your beloved offspring start consuming actual food and not just milk, when they begin taking tentative steps and before you know it are running amok and when you head back to work and start putting them in childcare on a regular basis.

All things that you can prepare for as much as you like, but don’t really get in the swing of until you’re doling out pureed carrot, sprinting after escaping children and struggling with the ‘guilt’ of having to hand them over so you can earn money to feed, clothe and provide them with plastic tat.

Well so far it’s only been 10 days of real time and seven actual ‘school days’ but, as it turns out, starting school is the biggest parental culture shock so far.

The Neat Freak household, like so many up and down the country, has gone through what feels like a tidal wave of change in a really short space of time, and personally I feel like I’m just about treading water but still gasping for air.

So while Mini-me takes it all in her tiny stride, here’s just a few of the things I’m still trying to adjust to. Maybe some will strike a chord with the rest of you.

  1. How proud I feel seeing Mini-me all shiny and smart in her new uniform, carrying her book bag. How did she get to be so grown up?
  1. How amazing children are to just adapting to a new situation. Every morning we’re barely through the classroom door before Mini-me has put her book bag in the right box, got out her water bottle, said good morning to her teacher and is off to play like she owns the joint.
  1. How brilliant they also are at socialising with friends old and new. As it turns out I could learn a lot about ‘productive networking’ from my four-year-old.
  1. How, try as I might, I will always be the parent making her poor child jog along the pavement to get to school on time. Hopefully school will teach her better time management than I can.
  1. That some serious hair envy goes on at school, at least on my part. Every morning I marvel at the mothers who have managed to tease their child’s hair into a sleek French plait, while carrying their baby around in a sling, while I can barely get Mini-me to stand still long enough to manage a lumpy ponytail.
  1. How quickly you forget how blimmin’ tricky ties can be. Good job I also bought one of the ones on a string.
  1. That Mini-me will soon have actual homework that hopefully I won’t have to nag her to do. Is this the start of officially turning into my mother?
  1. That I’m really excited about becoming a reading helper and joining the PTA. Once a geek and all that…
  1. How I’m loving that Mini-me starting school is also a great excuse for me to meet new friends, and spend more time with old ones.
  1. That I’m also already excited about my little girl being in the school nativity, assuming they have one, and other productions.

(Ah the memories, of my sister being cast as a snow fairy – while I was a plain old boring snowflake – and then, to my horror, as the wicked witch in Gobbolino. It’s all coming back to me now…)