Touch of Spice |

Touch of Spice

The fear factor

Christina M. Currie

Among kids, fear is a cycle.

When Katie was a baby, she loved the vacuum cleaner. She’d crawl along chasing it, try to get on top to ride it or be lulled to sleep by it.

If she was laying on the floor, I could vacuum a perfect baby shape around her and she didn’t flinch once.

Now, she’s in the phase where the vacumm scares her to death and the minute I turn it on, she goes a runnin’.

It confuses me.

Much to Katie’s dismay, Nikki is still infatuated by the vacuum cleaner, and doesn’t respond to Katie’s requests that “Mikki” join her at the top of the tallest piece of furniture she can scale.

There are times I wish she would, particularly after the last vacuuming session left Nikki with a bloody lip. She wanted to vacuum so badly and chased me around, trying to get a grip on the handle. I let her for a few minutes (during which time we got about 7 inches of carpet covered). The second she let go, I took off across the room, trying to get the job done as fast as possible.

Nikki ran after me and right into the plastic top of the bag as I was pulling it back.

That was the first time I’d ever seen blood come from her and it was pretty much my fault. Nikki wasn’t the only one who cried.

We compromised and her tears stopped completely when I got out the Dustbuster, taught her how to turn it on, and gave her free reign.

I figured, what the heck, it could only help, right?

It won’t be long, though, before she’s running to save her toys from sudden death should the machine touch them and then perch on the back of the couch with Katie, waiting for the scary noise to stop.

And, it won’t be long before Katie is indifferent. That’s how the cycle goes.

Last Friday we all huddled under blankets on the deck waiting for the July 4th fireworks to start. Katie was on Cloud Nine. She had a cup of hot chocolate and the freedom to run inside the house and back out again.

She stopped taking advantage of that freedom as soon as the fireworks began. She ran into the pitch black house, and sat on the couch alone and crying (she loved the fireworks last year, by the way).

I went inside to get her and forced her, kicking and screaming, to come out with me.

We took it in phases. First we stood by the window so she could see how pretty the lights were. Once she was comfortable with that, we moved to the door, so she could hear the noises they made (each bang punctuated with Nikki’s “stop it,” directed toward the hill). As soon as she relaxed by the door, we made our move to the deck.

She preferred the doorway.

I wrapped her in a blanket, held her tightly and oohed and aahed over ever explosion, naming every color and saying “pretty.”

It didn’t take Katie long to get over her fear, and before I knew it she was patting Nikki (who loved everything but the noise and that was only a minor annoyance) and saying “is OK Mikki. Not scary.”

She was the brave one now and made sure to reassure every other family member.

She’s definitely gotten over her fear, because every night at dusk, she asks for fireworks.

I’m having trouble explaining the concept of “annually” to her.

Kids go through the love-hate-love cycle on many things: Spinning, swinging, the clothes dryer, the bathtub. You never know if the activity they begged to do last week will send them screaming and crying into a corner in their room. And, after weeks of wrenching them out amid kicks and tears, something clicks and they come running willingly.

It’s part of the appeal of children that they keep you on your toes. They also teach you a very valuable lesson — never take their moods and reactions for granted. The minute you think you know something about them, they’ll change it.

Most experts will say that’s part of them learning and growing. I think they just do at as part of an elaborate scheme to drive you crazy.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, Ext. 210 or by e-mail at

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