Fear of Mascot Costumes

Posted on
Categories Emotion, Fear, ParentingTags , Leave a comment

My daughter M is a pretty well-adjusted 7-year-old. She has faced and coped with her birth defect with more maturity than I think I could have mustered in her place. She has one fear, though, that we’ve struggled to overcome for years now. She has a fear of mascot costumes. Specifially, she is terrified, paralyzed almost, by people in costumes that hide their faces.

We have talked about her fear ad nauseam. M is very aware of it being irrational and is able to describe the parameters of her fear very clearly. She is afraid of mascots if the costume obscures the face and she doesn’t know who is inside. She was fine this Halloween because everyone she saw in a face-obscuring mask was with a family in which she could place their role. She was okay with the local production of The Little Shop of Horrors because we were able to meet the actors before the show and see how the costume fit. She’s okay with her school mascot because she knows which members of the school staff wear the costume.

My favourite grocery store, HEB, recently opened a new store wonderfully convenient to our house. We were out shopping for last minute Christmas dinner fixings on December 14 when I caught sight of the store mascot, H-E-Buddy® walking the aisles, giving kids high fives.

I didn’t stop to get a video myself. Instead, I positioned myself to ensure that M’s back would be to the costumed employee and quietly said to M, “Sweetie, there’s a mascot here. What do you want to do?”

I could see her try to steel herself, but her words still came out in a scream. “Get away, Mommy. Don’t let him see me.”

We ducked down the nearest aisle, M begging me to check out immediately. I reminded her that we still needed to pick up our Christmas ham and chicken. This would be our last chance to shop.

Grocery shopping took far far longer than usual, as we chose where to walk based on whether H-E-Buddy would see us. J and I took turns scouting out whether it was safe to go around the next corner. At one point, M squeezed into the space between an ATM and the adjacent wall while I stood in front of her, hiding her existence while her sister got a cheery high five.

“M,” I asked her, picking her up, “Don’t you know I won’t let anything bad happen to you?”

“You always protect me,” she said through her tears, burying her face in my shoulder.

That’s why I let our ice cream melt in our long convoluted journey through our grocery trip. I can only help my daughter overcome her fears as long as she trusts me. In the short term, it means treating our Christmas grocery quest like a game of Pac-Man.

We’ve already worked through many of M’s fears. We no longer have to drive by new performance venues days before we go to see a play or musical performance. We no longer need to cross the street to avoid small dogs; she asks owners permission to pet puppies now! She now willingly goes trick-or-treating with her sister instead of begging to stay home to avoid people in Halloween costumes. She even rode on a bicycle without stability wheels and was proud of how long she stayed on instead of screaming about falling off.

Eventually, I believe that M will meet enough of the people inside mascot costumes that she can push her fear aside. Until then, I’ll continue to seek out ways for her to meet costume-wearers in their everyday clothes and help her avoid her demons.

I’ll always protect her.

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school and also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on RedditDigg thisShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Toddler Fears

Posted on
Categories ToddlersTags 9 Comments

Hi, my name is snickollet and I’m a week late with my post because I’ve been too busy swooning over and kissing a boy. Sorry. Kinda. OK, I’m not really sorry at all! Will you forgive me?

I actually had a post in mind for last week and then, well, yes, see above. But since the post was not time-sensitive, it should do for this week. The topic is fear, toddler fear. Not fear of toddlers (although goodness knows there are times when they scare me) but rather fears that toddlers have.

I don’t know about your kids, but mine fear some interesting things. They are scared of dogs (not entirely irrational, except that they have never had a negative interaction with a canine), cats, bugs, butterflies (!), grass (!!), having their toenails cut (!!!), and having their hair cut. The other day, Riley looked at the clock in the playroom—the same clock that has been hanging in the playroom his entire life—became wide-eyed, crept onto my lap, and announced, “I no like that clock, Mama. I scared.” ?????

With the exception of the clock, the common thread that I can find among Maddie and Riley’s fears is a lack of control. They love the idea of dogs and cats, and will enthusiastically wave at them from across the street and even express interest in petting them. But as soon as the animal approaches them rather than vice-versa, it’s all over. The tears pour down and the pitiful cries of, “No doggie hurt Riley! No doggie hurt Maddie!” begin. Same thing with the hair and toenail cutting. They like to cut my hair and toenails, or Elmo’s. But when I wield the scissors or clippers? NO WAY. They’ll walk on grass, but if it brushes into their stroller, unannounced, when out on a walk? Let the panic ensue!

Their fears seem to be contagious; if Riley decides he’s afraid of something, Maddie will inevitably follow suit. I wish it worked the other way: one expresses a fear and the other reassures. Alas, no. I do a lot of reassuring—what else can I do? But it seems to fall mostly on deaf ears. As near as I can tell, I just have to be patient and wait for them to outgrow their unusual (to me) concerns. I’ll admit that it can be frustrating; there are a few friends we can’t visit because Maddie and Riley are so fearful of dogs and there is not a place to secure the dog when we come over. We make do by hosting those folks rather than going to them, but I hope that someday it won’t be an issue.

What unusual things do your toddlers fear? How do you handle it?

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on RedditDigg thisShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone