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Little Spouse On The Prairie: Very, Very Afraid

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Last week, I talked about how maternal fears impact offspring, even when those children haven’t been specifically conditioned to be afraid.

Last week, I talked about how maternal fears impact offspring, even when those children haven’t been specifically conditioned to be afraid. It’s almost as if they absorb their mother’s abject terror or ingest it in her breast milk. It’s funny -- I’m not afraid of this program -- but they seem to be. I would have no idea where they picked up that fear. Surely their stepdad doesn’t fear it.

My middle child, now 12, has inherited many of my traits. Most notably, he goes on jags the way I do. He latches onto a passion and there’s nothing that can shake him from pontificating for hours about his current obsession. For example, he can expound on a particular video game longer than my college lit professors could talk about symbolism in Shakespeare.

He collects things, too -- not the same valuable doilies and clearly important salt and pepper shakers I treasure -- but still, he does collect. I try not to be too judgmental about what he chooses. To each his own. I understand that his near obsession with Lego sets (which, by the way, are much more expensive than doilies), will eventually mature to a more sophisticated love of fine collectibles, like decorator plates and Precious Moments figurines.

Also, Dashiell has clearly inherited my love of board games. He obviously does not have ludophobia. Just kidding; he feels the same way about board games as my older daughter feels toward throw-up. What he has inherited is a dogged determination to look busy while avoiding a task. Let’s say we are working on a family chore – raking – for example. Dashiell spends a good deal of time choosing just the right rake – remember, we have many, due to Joel’s regular overpaying for duplicates during auctions. After the appropriate yard implement has been selected from Joel’s curated collection, Dashiell will get right to work.

Unfortunately, by this time, he needs to use the restroom, which requires him to go into the house for a bit. When he comes out, he may be drinking a chocolate milk, which means he’ll need to return the empty cup to the house when finished. While he’s doing that, he may notice we have a new box of fruit snacks on the counter, so he’ll grab a couple of packs of those. By the time he returns to the yard this time, the raking is finished.

This series of actions closely resembles my own when I am preparing to exercise, though admittedly, I will choose diet pop instead of milk when I go in to get a drink, because – hey – I care more about my health. I don’t really buy those rumors about drinking too much aspartame. I do tend to use up a good deal of my exercise time choosing exercise clothes that will NOT accentuate the areas I’m trying to tone up. Do they make asymmetrical workout pants that reveal only one calf? Well, even if they do, I can’t buy them because of my asymmetriphobia. Although I could invest in some online shopping time in trying to find some. Exposure therapy is supposedly an excellent way to treat phobias.

Speaking of phobias, I’m still trying to figure out which one Dashiell has picked up from me. It certainly isn’t my germophobia. Or my ataxophobia, which is fear of disorder and untidiness. He’s my son. He has to have one – 0r more – of my fears. Could I do a little Pavlovian work here? Not to actually make him fear something on purpose, of course, but to just check to see if he fears certain things that I do? Like spiders. I bet he fears them. If I put a few nonpoisonous ones around his room, surely, I could find out.

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