Have you ever watched the TV show, When Animals Attack? You see these seemingly harmless, beautiful creatures of nature turn on humans and practically maul them to death. It’s scary. But, it’s also stupid. It’s stupid of the person who is provoking the chimp, or getting too close to the elephant, to not realize that these animals are wild. I plan to teach my children to respect nature and wild animals so they don’t end up one of those dummies on a show like that. They’ll be informed. The key is to convey that message of danger without making them afraid of animals in general. I am usually not a fan of “scare tactics” but a little dose of fear sometimes can keep you from doing dumb things such as, not having unprotected sex for fear of getting pregnant, not doing drugs for fear you may become addicted, or not driving drunk for fear you could kill someone or yourself. The fear instilled in “what can happen if…” makes people not do things. (Then again, sometimes, the fear doesn’t outweigh the desire or curiosity. Then, people do drugs, get knocked-up or get mauled by wild animals–not in that order.) I am going somewhere with this, I promise.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, you have people who are afraid of non-harmful situations. Take, Agoraphobia—a fear of going outside, or Arachnophobia – a fear of spiders; both these fears are irrational but the person is terribly affected by their phobia. And here comes my problem…
My Biz e-Baby1 has what I called Noo-noophobia – a fear of loud, noisy, sucking objects. The following loud, noisy sucking objects fall into Noo-noophobia: vacuums, blenders, drive-thru bank tubes, drive-thru car washes, hair driers, and bathroom hand-driers. Noo-noo comes from the vacuum-based character on the children’s BBC program, Teletubbies. My daughter has loved that show since she first saw it at about 15 months-old. It is a character that is nice and cleans up after the messy Teletubbies. She talked about Noo-noo all the time and never seemed to be afraid. So, I bought her some DVDs and books with Teletubbies. It made her happy. But at a very young age, she voiced her dislike of real-life vacuums when I would clean the house. She would cry hysterically and I’d have to stop until someone could take her out of the room and I could finish the job.
I actually Googled “fear of vacuums” to find out if there is a phobia of such things and all I could find was Zuigerophobia. This term is questionable because I couldn’t find it in any credible source. But, I feel like there must be others –aside from Biz e-Baby1—who are afflicted with this condition. And, how do we overcome it?!
She is fascinated by vacuums but doesn’t want to touch them. She watches a particular Handy Manny’s “School for Tools” episode over and over again because it’s all about Manny’s vacuum named Sneeze and she loves him. If Biz e-Baby1 sees vacuums in a store, she shouts out cheerfully – “look Mommy, Noo-noos!” However, she only admires them from afar. She will absolutely freak out in fear crying if one turns on. I think that she believes it comes alive or something. The ladies at daycare can’t even clean up at night with the vacuum because she makes a scene when they sweep the floors.
Biz e-Dad and I were shopping at Toys R Us once, and Biz e-Baby1 saw a toy Dirt Devil vacuum. In the store, she loved it and we thought that perhaps having a smaller version of the real thing would help encourage acceptance and understanding of the machine. We bought it. She was happy. Until, we got home and took it out of the box—fear set in. She made us get it out of her sight immediately and asked it to go in the closet. Literally, she said “go in closet, Noo-noo.” Her point was made.
It seems I haven’t learned my lesson yet because she asked for a vacuum for her third birthday. His name is Dusty, and it has eyes. Freaky right? But she loved it in the store and has been saying for weeks since our shopping trip that she wants Dusty for her birthday. I bought it. We will see how their first encounter goes this Saturday at her birthday party. I am holding out hope that Dusty will be the key to our Noo-noophobia recovery and pray it doesn’t end up like a jaw-dropping scene from When Noo-noos Attack.