Home > Top Ten > Top Ten: Phobias James Has Conquered

Top Ten: Phobias James Has Conquered

Along with the heat wave, this summer has also brought with it a wave of fears for James that I thought we had made a ton of progress on last year, which has been as surprising as it is frustrating. Ocean waves, the birthday song, the track and field gun (which doesn’t even happen until the meet in August) and boy-oh-boy, the balloons or anything that makes a sound remotely like popping (including doors slamming too hard or a piece of construction paper that folds closed too loudly) are all issues again. And it’s only the first week of July.

So it’s a good time to remind myself (and others) of all the phobias that James has conquered in the past. Looking back gives me hope that James will not only enjoy dipping his feet into the ocean someday, but that he also won’t spontaneously start weeping at dinner when the waiter brings a birthday cake to another table.

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Top Ten: Phobias James Has Conquered

1. Coughing: Even as an infant and toddler James was very sensitive to loud, sudden noises. My husband is probably the loudest sneezer I have ever met, so I am particularly grateful that James has gotten over this fear!

2. Movie theaters: I think it was the combination of dim lights, loud volume and anticipation of the simulated rollercoaster that rolls through popcorn and oversized soft drinks that used to do James in, until as recently as a few years ago. Now James only cries when the movie is over.

3. Toilets: James wasn’t potty trained until he was 4 1/2 years old, mainly because he was terrified of sitting on the toilet (another fear I’m so thankful he got past).

4. Thunderstorms: Until a year or two ago, James used to get very upset with every storm. We definitely had some fun jogs down Broadway, me with the stroller and umbrella and James screaming bloody murder every time there was a clap of thunder or bolt of lightning (though traumatic I still chuckle envisioning the faces of startled passerby). I remember the day when the kids came out after school and told me that “James didn’t cry during the thunderstorm,” looking like proud parents.

5. Vacuums: Many children are scared of loud vacuum cleaners – but not usually when they are 8 or 9. It’s funny, I don’t remember when this fear faded away, kind of like I don’t remember the last time I vacuumed (thanks, hardwood floors)!

6. Lawn Mowers: I’m pretty sure this one is gone though I haven’t mowed a lawn in 4 years. I do distinctly remember James standing at the front door screaming for me to “get away from the lawn mower” nearly every time I mowed the lawn up until our move to the city, though.

7. Subways: James fooled us more times than I care to admit that he “had to go to the bathroom really bad” once we had paid our subway fare and were waiting on the platform, when he was really just avoiding the subway’s arrival (it sometimes took us 3-4 attempts to get on the train at first until we got wise). Thankfully, he’s down to  just occasionally plugging his ears when a particularly loud train rumbles past.

8. Swings: I kid you not, this was one of the worst phobias ever. At some point it was so bad that we would pull into the parking lot of a neighborhood library with a playground on site and James would see the swings 50 yards away and freak out. As recently as a few years ago he was still falling off the swings at nearby playgrounds and was going on them for bribes (kind of like the ferris wheel). For those of you who have only known him more recently I bet you don’t even believe this one, since the swings are James’s #1 favorite thing to do at any given playground – he’s even willing to stand in line with other kids to get on one of them.

9. Clapping/Applause: In my past life I was a music performance major, which didn’t go well with a child who would loudly sob in between symphony movements because he thought someone might clap. He still isn’t a fan of loud cheering but has recently made it through the performance and applause of Mary Poppins without breaking down – I call that progress.

10. Fire Alarms: On James’s very first day of school in NYC I was called to come pick him up early because he was inconsolable. I found him waiting outside with a para who explained that the fire alarm was malfunctioning and going off multiple times over the course of the day. For the next 2 years a para brought James outside a few minutes before any scheduled drill. As of last year James is able to file out with his class – without crying.

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For all of you who had the opportunity to witness one breakdown or another this past week, I am still confident that James will one day willingly (and even happily) participate in birthday dinner dates and seaside swims without fear of offkey singing or “violent” waves. As for balloons, I’m 50/50.

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  1. January 29, 2013 at 9:50 am

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