I remember the afternoon when one of our girls, a
toddler at the time, brought me a treasure from our yard clutched
in her chubby hand. Holding her fist up to my face, she opened it
to reveal a balled-up roly-poly bug. Instinctively I shrieked and
knocked it from her hand. She looked up at me, her eyes wide in
shock. Then she let out a long howl. I had rejected her gift. I
felt like a more miserable creature than the one I'd discarded,
even as the shivers continued to tickle my neck.
I can't stand bugs. When our third daughter was born, I
was secretly relieved to have escaped the job of mothering boys. I
reasoned, as the mom of three girls, that I would not have to dodge
requests for lizards, snakes and other creepy crawlies. I imagined
all the times I wouldn't have to feign interest in some icky
creature just to be supportive.
Then my husband stepped in. He asked me to stifle my
instinct to scream, cringe or otherwise react negatively toward
bugs. He was determined, girls or not, that his children would not
inherit my squeamishness around creepy crawlies. Instead he
encouraged them to get up-close, touch and enjoy little creatures
of every kind. And he insisted during the early years that I hide
my creeped-out reactions.
If I wanted my girls to avoid being trapped by the fears
that sent me scrambling at the sight of a tiny spider, I had to
face those fears.
I had to at least pretend to embrace the wonder of
Since then, I've learned to nod appreciatively (from a
safe distance) at night crawlers dubbed as pets and carted around
in bike baskets.
I've housed and fed caterpillars, dumping their droppings
and watching them go through various stages until they became
butterflies. And I've even gone so far as to allow amphibians to
live in our house-a pair of dwarf frogs that, thankfully, never
leave their aquarium habitat.
My days of masking my fear (or accidentally not) are gone
now that my girls are safely beyond catching it. At this point they
are well aware of my dislike for everything insect- or lizard-like.
For them it's become a source of amusement. I regularly find
revolting plastic specimens hidden under my pillow, to which I
respond with mock cries of horror. In return I'm rewarded with a
chorus of muffled giggles.
Like many other aspects of parenting, it hasn't been easy,
this journey toward raising girls who love what I can't stand. But
there is a satisfaction in knowing I played a role in creating room
for them to learn that love. And there's an even greater
satisfaction in finding success in my efforts. After all, what
parent doesn't want to give their child a better life than they
had? Even if it's as simple as giving them a life free from a fear
Lara Krupicka is a Naperville mom and freelance writer.
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