Tough Love and Vacuum Cleaners
June 19th, 2010
As a parent, one of the ongoing balancing acts that you are faced with is the issue of how to handle your child’s fears. On the one hand, you want to be loving and supportive and to show your child you take seriously that which frightens her, even if it doesn’t frighten you. On the other hand, you don’t want to inadvertently feed those fears — particularly if they are irrational — and raise a quaking fearful weenie.
Now, some fears are pretty common and understandable, and I’d be willing to be quite supportive of Miss Mouse if she was afraid of, say, dogs. Dogs can be big and loud and they have a lot of teeth. Heck, I love dogs but strange canines still make me really nervous.
But Miss Mouse loves dogs. No, that which she fears above all else is…the vacuum cleaner.
Yup, the vacuum cleaner, sent from the bowels of Hades itself to torment small children. From an early age, she tensed up when she heard the sound of the vacuum, and now runs to my arms in panic when Josh fires it up. She doesn’t even like it when it isn’t turned on. The other day, she refused to come out of her room because the sweeper had inadvertently gotten left in the hall.
My mother’s approach, bless her heart, has been to try to hide their vacuum cleaner at the condo under towels. My instinct is to say “suck it up kid, it’s a vacuum cleaner.” That’s definitely one of those fears that I do not want to encourage or give validity to. Which isn’t to say that I’m mean about it — I don’t fire up the cleaner and drag her over to show her it isn’t dangerous. But I don’t hide ours, nor do I make a big deal out of her fearful responses.
I suspect the root of the problem is our dog. Riley has long been terrified of the vacuum cleaner and I think he’s been spreading rumors about its depredations to my impressionable young girl.