Friday, January 22, 2010

In Philly even the geese have attitude and why my son has an irrational fear of gerbil-sized dogs and animals in general.

In the past I have for the most part refrained from posting about some of the more embarrassing behaviors of my kids, not so much because I'm fearful of embarrassment - I mean I think we've established at this point that I have absolutely no problem humiliating myself here for the sake of entertainment. No, I've refrained because I would never want to post something on my blog about my kids that might serve as fodder for their humiliation later in life. I mean adolescence is difficult enough without your mother spilling to the Internet all your childhood secrets about thumb sucking and toilet issues. That said, every now and then there comes a moment when I want to talk about my kids' freakish behaviors, if only to be able to commiserate, even briefly. Today's topic: my son's bizarre fear of dogs the size of a hamster. Even when they're on a leash.

A bit of back story: I've always been a dog-lover. I had dogs throughout my childhood. I even had one when C and I were dating. That's a story in and of itself. Let me just say that a decision to adopt a lab/pit bull mix should not be made after a night of drinking Tequila. Actually, that particular night I ended up with a dog and knocked up. Yes, that was a memorable night indeed. That damn dog ate everything from a bottle of prenatal vitamins which, on Christmas Eve had me desperately trying to contact animal poison control in a panic - and the only thing the dog suffered was an extra shiny coat. This dog also ate OUR HOUSE (I kid you not. He chewed all the stucco off the side of the condo we were renting at the time) and our YARD. Eventually, we had to give the dog away due to all the damage he inflicted on our condo, and the fact that as it turns out my kids are allergic to dogs. Don't worry, I assure you we found him a good home (which is far better than the one he came close to getting in Heaven). So anyway, we gave up the dog before my son was old to remember that we ever even had one.

Anyhoo, a couple of summers ago we went back East to visit C's family and decided to take a trip to the Philadelphia Zoo, as the kids had never been to a zoo before. All was fine and good aside from the 100 degree heat with humidity (I'm from the desert people. It's hot here, but it's not generally humid, and we have freakin' air conditioning everywhere). Anyway, when we sat down to eat our lunch, we were accosted by a giant herd or flock or whatever you call it of geese (I guess geese just randomly wander the Philly Zoo - maybe this is normal for zoos, I don't know), and let me tell you they were aggressive. In Philly, geese don't politely request that you toss a few crumbs their way Good Sir. No they get downright ghetto about it and demand that you give up the goods, motherfucker! And these geese were nasty. They had some sort of mucus emanating from their geese nostrils (germ phobe alert!). Anyway, the geese were practically charging us and, well a flock of geese forcibly snatching my son's hot dog from his tiny hand with their evil pestilence-covered beaks was understandably terrifying to my then three year old. My husband and his friend successfully chased the geese away (but then some idiots decided to start feeding them part of their lunch, which brought them right back).

But anyway, that marked the conclusion of "The Geese Incident." It was, however, just the beginning of "The Zoo Incident," as we still refer to it to this very day. You see, the zoo does not allow straws on the premises because the animals can ingest them and die or something (I'm no zoo expert. I don't know.) But if you recall, it was about 100 degrees out and apparently I failed parenting 101 and never taught my kids how to drink out of a cup like normal people do, because Maggie wouldn't drink out of a cup without a straw that would enable her to suck "sippie cup style." Well this prompted the temper tantrum of the century. A temper tantrum to end all temper tantrums. This child wailed the entire way to the car (she had to be carried of course, as her back was arched, her face red from all the screaming. I worried that someone would think that we were abducting her, but then with the way she was carrying on, who would even want this kid I wondered?). She continued to scream non-stop for about 45 long minutes as we drove through downtown Philadelphia, screeching and frothing at the mouth. Recently when recalling "The Zoo Incident," the friend that accompanied us to the zoo told me that he had never in his life heard a kid scream like Maggie did that day. I'm fairly certain that "The Zoo Incident" single-handedly affirmed his decision to remain single and child-free for life.

But to return to the issue of the dog phobia, it became obvious to the hubs and me shortly after our return home from Pennsylvania that our son seemed to have developed an irrational fear of all animals, including even the very smallest of dogs, ON LEASHES, as well as cats which he believes to be dogs I think. We know this because when people innocently bring their pooch to the little park by our house my son has been known to loudly shout things like, "This is MY park! Tell that dog to GO HOME!" or better yet, "I HATE dogs!" Yes, we're so very proud of our anti-social animal-hater. My husband and I have tried on numerous occasions to explain to the boy that a) that's rude, b) it's not his park, and c) an animal the size of a gerbil on a leash is incapable of spontaneously mauling him. It just is. But this has been to no avail. There have been times when my six year old has literally jumped into my arms while shrieking uncontrollably to escape the immanent danger that he believes a Chihuahua poses him. Yes, my son is "that kid."

I think when it's all said and done, this pretty much says it all: This is a page from my son's school journal. It reads "A good pet would be a red fish." This makes sense to me seeing as how he hasn't had any unfortunate incidents with fish. Yet. I think his teacher's response of "That is a good idea!" is kind of funny. Perhaps she too has had a dog that ate her house. Either that, or she's witnessed my son's behavior around dogs and is saying "A fish IS the ideal pet for a freak like you. Your parents must be crack-dealing pedophiles."

A fish is the pet my son prefers.

*Update: Just yesterday some poor lady brought a dog to school when she came to pick up her kid - the dog was in in her purse by the way, so it was not a large threatening animal by any stretch of the imagination. When my son saw the dog he pointed to the sign posted on the side of the school that says "No Dogs Permitted On School Property" and said (loudly mind you), "That sign says no dogs here! Why does that lady have a dog? I HATE dogs!" Okay, now I'm embarrassed.


Amie said...

I have faith that this will change. Have you told him about Sam and about how she would dance and sing to Midnight Oil? A kid has got to love that.

Existential Waitress said...

That WAS awesome about Sam. But yes. I have told him tales of Sam and he's like "That's nice for you. But I will never like dogs."

Amie said...

Well, chihuahuas are kinda scary. At least Mateo is. But Sam dogs are sooo nice. They do ruin your house though. Charlie ate through walls.

Existential Waitress said...

I love Sam/Charie dogs. I'd really love to have a dog like that again. But yeah, they really do destroy your house. And I already spend all day contending with the bathroom issues of my children, I don't want to add a dog to the mix at this point. Besides, I can only imagine the response I'd get from my son if I brought a labrador retriever home one day.

Maven said...

Awwwww.... I like his drawing.

TH was afraid of dogs too. We got a family dog when he was seven and it took all his fear away.

Sarah said...

Oh this cracks me up. Maybe with time (like everyone else says) he will get over some of his nerves. On another note, I do find that East Coast geese do have quite a bit of attitude, as well.

Jason said...

It's good he's vocal about his fear/aversion and not just cowering silently.

The most telling bit was in the parenthetical, "I guess geese just randomly wander the Philly Zoo - maybe this is normal for zoos, I don't know," because, of course, there isn't a zoo with in two hundred miles of LV. Why would you know what is normal at zoos? As someone who lived in LV and the desert southwest for many years this really rang true.

Since our move to Wisconsin we go to the zoo all the time - when it's not snot-freezing cold - and I am torn. It is despicable to see animals confined to fake rock "habitats," but it is fun to take the kids and see the animals themselves. Don't even get me started on the inhumanity of the giraffe exhibit...

My point, I guess, is that you maybe lucky not to have to deal with the moral problem of having a zoo close by.

Amie said...

I hate to tell you but there IS a zoo in Vegas. Of course, I needn't tell you, DO NOT GO THERE. I have never been but have only heard bad things. I never went to zoos until I had Nola and she loves them so now we have been to two--Denver and Phoenix. Both of which are relatively good zoos. And we are going to go to the San Diego (zoo poeple mecca from what I am told) when she is older.

But I will stay away from the Philly zoo--and birds in general--don't EVEN get me started my phobia of birds.

Existential Waitress said...

Maven, I agree that maybe getting a dog when the kids are a bit older might help with some of his fears.

Sarah, I thought it was just me, but those Philly geese were really mean! They even scared ME, so my son was justifiably terrified.

Jason, I certianly don't mind my kids articulating their fears, it's my son rudely yelling things like "This is MY park" and "Tell that dog to GO HOME" that I object to. LOL. And I'm not sure cowering silently is in either kids' DNA.

And yes, I know of the so called Las Vegas "Zoo" that Amie is speaking of. It's in a strip mall off Charleston and MLK and I think it was just on the news a few weeks ago over some charges of inhumane treatment of animals or something (surprise, surprise). Needless to say, my kids have never been there. They have been to Bonnie Springs though, and that's pretty scary too.

A, I'm with you on the bird phobia big time (did I ever tell you that story about my mom and the pigeons?). I guess I should have mentioned that Bear is really afraid of birds too. I just remembered that one time he got scared by a bat (a real-life one - I would have been scared too). This poor kid can't catch a break!

Tracie said...

Oh. My. God.

Our sons must be related. My 7 year old is the same way. It is soooo embarrassing. The first thing he asks someone before entering their house is "Do you have a dog?" followed by "Do you have a cat?" and then "Do you have a bird?" He is scared of all three. And, yes, he will jump into my arms or cower behind me when he sees them.

Existential Waitress said...

Tracie, I am soooo glad that someone understands what I'm talking about!!! I was starting to think everyone would think I was just mean to my kids. And yes, our sons must be related b/c my son does the EXACT same thing - whenever we go to someone's house he asks is they have a dog, then a cat, and recently when we went to a friend's house where they have a bird and he was like "NO WAY!" I do understand his fear, but I don't think it's wrong at all to finally confess that this behavior is a wee bit embarrassing sometimes. LOL.

Bathwater said...

You should not be embarrassed by your son pointing out that the lady was disobeying the rules. I hate people who do that. My ex used to do that bring her little terrier to Max's baseball games until some park official told her that dogs weren't allowed in the park. Even though signs were posted. So rude!

Existential Waitress said...

I do agree that people should abide by the rules. If only so that I don't have to loudly hear him yell at the lady with the dog on school property. LOL. I'm a stickler for manners though, and IMO there's a right way and a wrong way to handle things. I feel that I'd be doing my son (and myself) a disservice if I didn't teach him that yelling "I HATE dogs" at someone is improper and rude.

Kristin said...

Poor little fellow. He no likey doggies. Ah ha ha

Grateful Twin Mom said...

Sounds like you're getting some good advice for how to help your son with his fear of animals. My daughter has the opposite problem; she has NO fear of dogs and will walk right up to anyone with a dog and ask to pet it. She has often gotten in the face of little dogs. She's even been nipped at 3 times--one even drew blood on her ear. You'd think she'd learn to be more cautious. But NO; I have to be HYPER-vigilant when she goes near a dog. I think your son's way might be better.

BTW, since you're a stickler for manners, I'm sure he'll get more respectful over time under your tutelage. Good luck!

blueviolet said...

You totally had me cracking up over this post! The way you wrote this killed me!

I'm with Sam. Dogs suck. And now I'm afraid of geese, so thank you. ;)

MODG said...

I live in philly and I can vouch for the bitchiness of our women and animals alike. I'm glad you survived.

PS that zoo is in the ghett-o

Organic Motherhood with Cool Whip said...

This post was fracking HILARIOUS!!! Everything about it. I read it over several times laughing hysterically. I love the part about your dog eating your house. And the incident with the psychotic pushy geese. We have some maniacal geese around here too down at the creek we like to walk around, so I totally get ya on that one. And OMG the story about the straws and your daughter was AWESOME. Well awesome for me, cuz I'm not her mom and didn't have to live through it. But I have my own children with bizarre and unusual fetishes, including my son Diego's current belief that all diapers are injuring his penis. Please don't call CPS on me. Anyhoo, I also loved the part about your son hating dogs of all sizes. Even gerbil sized ones. And the clincher was his adorable pic of the red fish at the end with the words "I think a red fish would be a good pet." Killer. You are such an awesome storyteller. Thank you for making my day.

Anonymous said...

Stopping in from The Stroller Ballet, and glad I did! Love your blog name! Did my graduating research project and presentation on Existentialism. Haha. ;)

Lee the Hot Flash Queen said...

That is so funny! My son was scared of dogs...and we have a HUGE one...just other dogs and he would scream and cry at the top of his lungs if someone was walking one on the other side of the street.

Amber Page Writes said...

Geese are scary, man. There used to be gangs of geese on my college campus, and I wouldn't have been surprised to see brass knuckles on their...feet? Whatever you call that part of a goose.

Your poor son. Hopefully, as he gets older, the fear will lift a bit? In the meantime, a red fish would be best.

Maggie May said...

what a total cutie. ' a fish would be a good pet'

Amy said...

Oh my God...I'm sorry to be laughing at this but it is truly the funniest thing I've ever read!

I, too, had a run in with geese when I was a child, and yes, those little fuckers are evil!!!!!

But perhaps you should ponder this:
Maybe your son is not so much afraid of dogs, as he is a stickler for rule following!

Seriously, I think it's super cute he's calling adults out when they bring their dogs places they shouldn't;)

ModernMom said...

LOL It is amazing we all survive parenthood!

Theta Mom said...

I can finally follow without GFC issues!!!! YAY!!!!!!!!


oh man. that one is rough! i wish my son hated dogs b/c THEN I WOULD NOT HAVE ONE!

SupahMommy said...

you are funnay !

my daughter came home today
there was an assembly
it was scientific
there was fire involved

mnm don't do fire
kinna like your son doesn't do " rodents n such... "


she spent some time in the nurse.

im just denying it all happened.

la di da. la di da.. i can't hear you .

what fire?
what panic attack?
Not MY daughter. I USED TO BE A TEACHER you know. Not her.
* sigh i feel ya