My daughter's capacity to be around bugs has recently been drastically lowered by a six year old. The older girl impulsively screamed at a beetle. When my toddler saw another, she let out a fake scream that was an impassioned impression of what she'd recently heard, just like it was the right thing to do. Using her little sponge brain and basing her reaction on what had been demonstrated, she gave that beetle as much attention as she thought was required. But then, not knowing how to deal with the little critter, it turned to real tears.
Hopefully I can convince my girl that they (bugs) are most often harmless. We will spend much time outdoors and explore. Possibly set out on scavenger hunts looking for different kinds. We will read about them and learn their benefits. (What is the benefit to a mosquito? They only seem to accomplish annoyance and, to drastic extreme, spread disease.)
Yesterday, I made a futile attempt to curtail her fears. She has always enjoyed pointing out bees in books, but she was a little apprehensive about the one randomly flitting about our bathroom the day before, hiding and reappearing. I had told her it was just trying to find the door, but she kept contact with me and repeatedly checked. Unfortunately, when she asked about it on day two and I confidently told her that it was no longer around (I hadn't seen or heard it in 24 hours), it conveniently fell out of its hiding spot in the skylight and landed right next to her in the tub, still alive enough to be squirming. By her intense reaction I at first thought it had stung her, but it was just her overwhelming fear telling her to evacuate. My instinct to hold her close in her anguish (and my guilt for reassuring her falsely) is a response that may not have only comforted her but confirmed her worry.
Bugs don't really scare me but they are just one of those things that give a sense of peril. It's amazing what such a small arachnoid can do. They torment millions with their eensy-weensy grandeur. Even when we know it isn't poisonous we seem to fear its impending attack. For me it's their sneakiness. They can suddenly appear.
Like the time I found myself standing on an ant hill. Or when I tried to ignore the hounding wasps and one flew up my nose. Or once in line at the clinic when I found a beetle on my neck (first thinking, "I don't have a necklace with a pendant this big"). In my sudden panic I let out a scream and threw the Coleoptera. People turned and looked at me strangely.
I have often kept my reactions in check and accepted bugs as part of the environment. But I have had a few little startles.
Then there are those big, black, hairy spiders that lurk in basements. I once dropped a book on one and left it there for days, not wanting to look upon that gloomy, eight legged mini-monster. Okay, I did claim I am not afraid of bugs. Those big scary creatures don't count, right? I remember once as a child sleeping on the stairs after finding one in my bed.
Good thing it's the middle of the day. I might not sleep well if I tried immediately following this discussion.
Maybe, even though I don't generally scream, I need to work on my own discomfort with mini-large things with eight legs if I am going to help my girl not have any trepidation. Or, maybe we'll just be amicable to all other creatures, including the harmless daddy long-legs. Whatever the case, bugs aren't going to stop us from enjoying the outdoors. A hiking we will go.