Friday, March 16, 2012

Anatomy of a Phobia

I hate bees.

Photo taken here
Or wasps. Yellow jackets, hornets... you name it, I loathe it.  But maybe my feelings go beyond hatred and enter phobic territory.  If I see one of those black and yellow harbingers of terror, I drop whatever I'm doing (for their sake, pray I'm not tending to my children) and run toward water, liquor, or any substance that promises to either protect me from the dreaded stinger or dull my emotions enough that I no longer care.

One thing I don't understand, however, is how this phobia started.  I have never been stung and --excuse me while I knock on a big freakin' piece of wood-- have managed to prevents stings on my boys in the summers as well.

But while my buzzing paranoia is unfounded, I've witnessed the evolution of Cael's fear, and it's totally legit.  The kid isn't frightened of monsters, or aliens or even train derailments.  He's terrified of being run over by a car.

You would too, if your brother took you out with one.

On one of our first "summer in March" days spent frolicking in the yard, the boys reacquainted themselves with the John Deere Gator and toured the yard from the vantage point of their battery-powered automobile.  They whizzed past the firetruck, looped around the basketball hoop and parked the tractor in the corner as they explored the farthest recesses of the lawn.

When Cael and Graham determined that they should scour the yard for the sticks most capable of battling vicious dinosaurs, they needed to enlist the help of the Gator to haul their weaponry before the sparring began.

They ran as fast as their little legs could carry them.

Cael took the lead, always hoping to reach the driver's seat before Graham, who has not yet mastered the pedals and steering.

I diverted my attention briefly to my nephews, who were enjoying a rousing game of football, before I noticed that something was wrong.

Cael was suspiciously absent.  Had he scaled a tree in search of a larger branch?  Had he made a U-turn and headed toward the house to steal cookies and wreak unimaginable havoc?

Just as I set down the camera to attempt a cookie interception, I heard it.  It was quiet at first, then growing in urgency.


But he was nowhere in sight.  Graham sat in the driver's seat of the Gator which he'd rallied up against the fence slightly, and craned his neck to locate Cael's screams.

"Graham drove over Cael!"  Joel shouted as he reached the scene of the crime.

As I watched helplessly, Joel pulled the vehicle back to reveal Cael's traumatized face much like pulling back the sheets from a bed.  And even though nothing but his ego was injured, his expression told me that a phobia had been created in that moment.

That and a good case for attempted vehicular homicide.

I hope his young age and resilience will help him to overcome this anxiety and not prevent him from living a full and happy life.  Who wants to spend a lifetime overcome with fear?


I guess I do.  You're on your own, Cael.


  1. Ugh, I hate bees too!! I was stung 2-3 times as a kid though...and to make matters worse last fall we noticed our new house appears to have a wasp problem outside!!

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    2. Oh my gosh, I wouldn't be able to live there! I actually passed out at work in high school one time when one landed on my face.

  2. OOh, ouch! Hope he's doing better now. I don't like buzzing insects, either, but my sister had a life-threatening allergy, so we were always beyond wary. I personally hat bugs with more than 6 legs the most... blech...

    It looks like I deleted my comment, I did and moved it down here because it posted under Shawna's as a reply to her comment. I'm a total dork today... The internet is not my friend, sigh...

    1. I hate spiders, too... but for some reason the thought that bees can chase me both horizontally AND vertically makes me twice as fearful. I must think that outrunning a spider is at least possible.

      Looking at that bee pic in my post is so hard for me... I should shy away from this topic!


Leave your own "ism". Cael and Graham double-dog dare you.