Last Christmas, Em received a Fisher Price glow worm. It plays children’s songs if you press its chest. It also lights up. He didn’t really care much for it back then. We played it for him and he would stare at it. We’d put it to bed with him at night just to keep him company. It was just something that made noise and lit up.
Then one day the batteries died. It laid dark and silent for months and months until recently when I pulled out a screwdriver and brought it back to life. I was so proud of myself! Not only did I NOT forget to buy a bunch of batteries, but I actually sat down one day and replaced the batteries to each and every toy that had died over time. (Parents-to-be: factor hundreds of dollars worth of batteries into your budgeting.)
Emory wasn’t nearly as pleased with my success, however. For reasons I may never come to understand, Em has decided that Mr. Glow Worm is the scariest thing ever. I wish I were exaggerating this point, but the mere sight of this small plastic, legless creature makes him lose his mind. His face fills with terror, actual terror. The glow worm triggers a part of his brain that spits back “FEAR”.
The first time it happened, we thought maybe he was just tired—maybe he had just seen a long day. So we kept it around for a bit. But then two days ago, when I put him down for a nap, I realized that it wasn’t his mood at all, it was the glow worm itself.
About an hour and half into his nap, I heard blood curdling screams coming from his bedroom. I was certain something terrible had taken place. I dropped everything I was doing and ran like hell into his bedroom. I found him standing upright and rigid in his crib, silently screaming. He pointed down at the glow worm, which I had stupidly placed in his crib (like I had done in the past). Tears streamed down his face. His lip quivered. And I hate to admit this next part, but if it hadn’t obviously freaked him out so much, it would have been really quite hilarious.
That’s not the only creature that invokes terror in our little boy. Balloo is guilty of it as well.
Em loves watching Elizabeth Balzano sing songs and play guitar on the show Bounce. He smiles when he hears her voice. I think he may have a crush on her. But as soon as it’s time for bed and Balloo appears, he completely freaks out. Again, this would be hilarious if it weren’t so terrifying for him. I think the funniest part about Balloo making his bedtime debut is how we act. As soon as she starts singing the goodbye song, one or the both of us sprint to the remote control in order to turn it off.
Yesterday, as I stuffed the glow worm into a box and sealed it shut, something occurred to me. I was afraid of everything when I was a child—ghosts and monsters and all things make believe. Tobyjoe had real fears to contend with and every time I hear him talk about his childhood, my heart breaks a little bit. I can’t imagine having to deal with real terror at such a young age. I much prefer my child-sized portions of it (if you call being afraid of poltergeists and skeletons terror) over his.
I’m hoping that my son remains afraid of things like a glow worm or an animated egg-shaped creature sporting suspenders. Because before you know it, adult-sized fears are keeping you up at night. There’s something to be said for prolonging innocence.
I’d give anything to fear a glow worm again.