A year or so ago we showed the movie “ET” to our children, thinking it was a heartwarming classic they would enjoy as much as we did when we were kids. But little Madden didn’t find it so charming, and found ET to be very scary. Enough that for the time being ET will remain “he who shall not be named.”
She also hates toilet flushes, cramming her hands over her ears and wincing every time she knows a flush is imminent. “I just have this made up thing where something’s going to come out of the toilet and try to get me,” she tells me.
Kids have lots of fears, and not all of them make sense or have any basis in reality. Yet, as much as we might try to reason with our children and explain away those fears, they persist. Rather than get frustrated by this, or angry at her when she takes these silly fears too far sometimes, I was thinking this morning that I should try and remember what it was like to be a kid and what terrorized me. I knew the answer immediately: flying cockroaches.
When I was little we lived in New Orleans, along with what I imagine were 20 million flying roaches. With their papery brown exoskeletons and wiggling little antennae, roaches are creepy enough, by try ones bigger than a walnut with wings on for size. WINGS. It wasn’t out of the realm of possibility to walk into a room unawares and get divebombed by a roach. I lived in abject fear of them. Night time was the worst, because I thought they’d land on me in bed, or get under the covers. I learned to create an airtight compartment with my sheets to prevent any roach incursions.
This led me to wonder, what did my fellow moms fear when they were kids? What terrors kept them on their toes and super vigilant? I was surprised at how many responses I got when I asked, most of which had me laughing out loud thinking about how scared we all were. See whether your biggest fear was on their list, and share your own stories with us.
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Drains, Drains, Go Away 1 of 20"The drain. Anywhere. In the tub, shower stalls, pools. DUDE. Jaws effed me UP. I was afraid because someone told me the drain connected to the ocean," says Dresden Shumaker of Creating Motherhood.
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Infestations & Swarms 2 of 20Too much of any sort of bug is more than enough for kids. Remembers Pilar Clark, "Cicadas almost made me break my arm once as I fled in terror." Adds Christina Burrows Refford, "I was on a swingset once at a friend's house when I was really young, like maybe 7, when all of a sudden dozens of caterpillars came off a tree hanging by a thread all around me. I screamed bloody murder until my dad came and rescued me."
Photo credit: Bongodogblog.com
A Pennywise For Your Thoughts? 3 of 20A lot of moms still can't get Pennywise, the assassin clown from Stephen King's "It," out of their heads. Christine Koh of Boston Mamas says, "I was unsupervised and read a copy of 'It' way too young." Same goes for Chelsey Andrews Staskiews of The Paper Mama: "I was afraid Pennywise would come out of the shower drain and eat my arms. Thanks, babysitter that let me watch that at five!" Mae Webb Winter, who blogs at Life's Candy, recalls, "Pennywise here too! I HAD to pass a storm drain just like the one in the movie on the way to school, and basically lived in terror. I remain legitimately fearful of clowns." Many who didn't see the movie still find clowns objectionable. Laura Schroder Lohr says, "My grandmother gave us a big clown like the one in Poltergeist. We set it at the front of our room where we could see it. When I had to pee, I ran as fast as I could past it. I don't think my grandmother liked us much." And Mandy Morrison of Harper's Happenings recalls being a clown on Halloween as a major trauma. " I was/am terrified of clowns because my mom dressed me as one when I was 2 for Halloween. She did all my makeup and THEN let me look in the mirror. I thought I was now...THAT and not myself anymore. So much terror. I should find the photos. That's right, my mom took photos of me as a crying clown. Before blogs even EXISTED," she recollects.
Photo credit: Warner Brothers
Don’t Get Sucked In 4 of 20Mom Kate Canterbury at The Guavalicious Life says vacuum cleaners were her biggest fear. "No idea why. I'm still traumatized by them. I have to leave the room when they are on and I used to pay my roommates to vacuum for me." Kate, you're not the only one. There's actually an official name for the fear of vacuums: zuigerphobia.
Photo credit: Geekologie
Not So Grate 5 of 20It wasn't just flying roaches and escalators that scared me. Whether it was a manhole cover or a sidewalk grate, I was convinced I'd fall through into who knows where and never be heard from again.
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The Local Devil Worshippers 6 of 20Not sure how many of you dealt with this, but Wendi Aarons was afraid of, "The Devil Worshipers that were allegedly living in the park. In Valley City, North Dakota."
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Along Came The Spiders 7 of 20Lots of moms had fears of spiders when they were little. Furry tarantulas creeped me out. Says Michelle Tully Harrington, "The idea that a spiders' legs keep moving after being ripped off of the body just creeps me out even to this day." Pilar Clark of One Mom Media asks, "Why do they need eight legs and eleventy BAZILLION eyes?" Also mentioned? Snakes, rats and mice.
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Flying Monkeys Everywhere 8 of 20Many mamas can pinpoint the scenes in movies that scared the daylights out of them as children. "The Wizard of Oz" was mentioned several times, including the winged monkeys, the apple-throwing trees, and the wicked witch. I remember very clearly hiding behind my grandmother's pale green chair when the flying monkeys came on the television.
Photo credit: Everett Gallery
ET Go Home! 9 of 20Moms like Dorianne Gemme recall being frightened of E.T., just like my daughter. Asks Pilar Clark, "Who creates a semi-translucent alien that looks like an old man's um, thingamajig, and then makes him turn whiter than dog doo when he's dying? Seriously?"
Photo credit: Universal Studios
Aliens 10 of 20For Stephanie Totti, it was the movie "Aliens." "My mother (the sci-fi fan) thought it would be a great bonding experience to watch her fave movie with me when I was 9. Yeahhhhh ...."
Photo credit: 20th Century Fox
Apocalypse Now 11 of 20Whether it's floods, tornadoes, hurricanes or fires, lots of moms remember fearing Mother Nature's fury. Mom Casey Carey-Brown says she had fire nightmares for years. Adrienne Jones adds, "I was scared to death of floods, which I thought would come as a wall of onrushing water that would sweep us all away. It was perplexing and frustrating for my parents because we lived (still live) in the high desert southwest!"
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The Eyes Have It 12 of 20Portraits with eyes that follow you around made the creeper list. Stefanie Belote remembers, "... the painting of the old captain in our living room who had eyes that followed you. Wouldn't go in there alone."
Photo credit: Australian National Portrait Gallery
The Creepy Neighbor 13 of 20"I was afraid of Mrs. Whilshey. She lived next door and was a lonely old lady with a tooth missing who used to open her blinds and hiss at me and my sister while we rode our big wheels," says Maggie May Etheridge.
Photo credit: Sony Pictures
Scary Groundhogs 14 of 20"I was terrified of ground hogs. I had never seen one (or didn't recognize it if I did) and a friend kept telling me about how they could have rabies and run out of the woods and attack you. My best friend's house was on the other side of a patch of woods and I would tear through it imagining a huge beast coming out and tearing into me," says Meagan Francis of The Happiest Mom. The fear of any animal is called zoophobia.
Photo credit: Carol Parafenko
Creepy Cocoons 15 of 20"Cocoons freaked me right out. They just seemed so creepy, what with the thing metamorphosing inside, changing, becoming something I couldn't identify yet. I was freaked that it would break out while I looked," describes Elan Morgan of Schmutzie
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Down the Hatch 16 of 20Jamie of Grumbles and Grunts says, "I was afraid of the sound of the toilet flushing so I'd wait 'till the last possible second to flush and sprint out of the room." She wasn't the only one to cite the fear of flushing.
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Things in the Basement 17 of 20Kristi Curl Mandsager says, "I was afraid of the large deep freeze in our basement. I had a pretty active imagination and had convinced myself that my parents were secret murderers and there was a body in there. Seriously." Laura DiVenti didn't like basements no matter what was in them. "I couldn't go into the basement without all the lights on. I would run down the stairs as fast as possible and with all the adrenaline I had, I would turn on every light possible. Terrifying," she said.
Photo credit: Instructables.com
Monsters Under the Bed 18 of 20What list of childhood fears would be complete with the monster under the bed? "To this day, I can't sleep with a foot or an arm hanging over the side of the bed because of the intrinsic fear that some unnamed monster will get me," says Christina Gleason of Well In This House. Mir Kamin adds, "I'm with Christina. I had to leap from the light switch onto the bed so no monsters underneath could grab me!"
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Malevolent Mascots 19 of 20A few mothers mentioned a fear of any costumed mascot, which is a phobia called maskophobia.
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Mirror, Mirror On the Wall 20 of 20"Mirror at night. I'm still sort of freaked about that. Do not look into a mirror at night," says Jen Hajer of The Next Martha. Adds Jamie Frayer of Grumbles and Grunts, "CAN YOU IMAGINE IF YOU LOOK IN THERE AND IT MOVES WHEN YOU AREN'T MOVING? I CAN."
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Katherine Stone writes here at Babble as well as at her blog on postpartum depression, called Postpartum Progress. You can also follow her on Twitter as she tweets inane things about her day, or learn more about her at her Fierce blog here.