Odd I know, but a good friend of mine who lives at the seaside was out feeding the ducks with her little boy when the rat with wings landed on the little guys head!
In an attempt to not traumatise her son my friend remained calm and smiled through the incident. However, the beaky pest began rustling around in the little boys hair at which point calmness was lost and the bird was politely told to do one and shoo!
It got me thinking about how hard we try as parents to not pass on our fears to our children.
It is no secret that I am not a massive fan of winged creatures. From a distance some butterflies and birds are lovely to look at but I don't like the fluttery movements.
Moths are demons.
Add a buzzing noise and a sting to fluttery movements and its just plain terrifying.
I love spring and summer and everything that comes with it. Hours of fun on the park, picnics, bbq's, paddling pools etc. However, there is always the sense of dread that the buzzing, stinging creatures will make an appearance and send me running for the hills!
I have been known to spot a wasp that is several miles away and watch its every movement as it creeps ever closer, undoubtly smelling the fear. When said stripey devil comes within a metre or two I'm on my feet and dancing around like a mad woman.
It's pretty impossible to hide this issue from the kids. My toddler quickly senses I have my eye on something a bit threatening and jumps to my side.
Despite being a married adult with two children of her own my parents still shout at me when they see me wafting and jumping around after an enemy wasp has infiltrated my personal space. However I have decided that actually my fear probably stems from them. As a child I was only stung a couple of times and the pain was not unbearable and vinegar was rapidly applied by the parentals. However, I was told a couple of stories as a child that I think set in the fear. One was when my Mamma delved into a big bag of spuds and was stung by a big nasty bee. The other was when My Mum was younger and was sitting in the garden with my Dad's parents when all of a sudden my Grandad put his hand down the front of her shirt. Would have been a strangely incestuous groping incident if he hadn't pulled his hand out with a big bumble bee squashed between his fingers.
Also, my Dad tells me off but I've seen him bouncing around the fruit trees in his garden. Looking like Tigger after too many fruit shoots and wafting around like he was at a rave, he thought no one could see but I saw the fear of the buzzy beasts in his eyes!!
The other day the family four had just enjoyed a duck feeding session when as we were getting back in the car a swan popped his head up at the toddlers window. "Ha Ha", I fakely laughed as I could see the car being rapidly surrounded by swans and geese the size of dustbins. Ah, isn't that cute I said to the toddler when in my head I was conjuring up Hitchcock style scenes of swans and geese pecking their way through the windows.
I've found it quite a complicated parenting challenge so far. There are certain objects and situations that I want my boys to be cautious of, but there is a fine line between caution and fear.
For example, you want them to be confident with animals such as cats and dogs but then you don't want them making a fuss of animals that they don't know in case they are nasty.
We have always emphasized the danger of being safe near roads and in car parks but don't want the boys to be terrified whenever they hear a car engine!
If the only phobia the boys inherit from me is of buzzy creatures or man eating swans then actually I think I'd be rather happy with that.