Monday, July 21, 2008

Costumephobia? Characterphobia? Or Just a Kid?

I don't know if I have shared this with you yet, but Disneyland is one of my favorite places on Earth - as well as my hubby's and daughter's. Halloween is also one of our favorite holidays - decorating the house, picking out the costume, going trick or treating, etc. And one of Allie's favorite past times is looking at Christmas lights and Christmas decorations and observing/celebrating the Christmas feeling from afar.

Have I also told you that Allie is absolutely afraid of Characters??? No - she is not afraid of the typical Halloween costumes - be it adult or child - she is just deathly afraid of the big character costumes - i.e., Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, the Rat from Chuck E. Cheese, Snoopy, Elmo, Big Bird or any of the 100s of other characters she has seen at the various theme parks, birthday parties and children shows that we have been to. And I'm not talking about afraid, let's walk in the other direction. I'm talking death grip, shakes, tears and gotta get outta here fear!

Disneyland is her favorite place on earth - so long as she is far enough away from Mickey and his friends that she knows they won't try and come near her (but she couldn't get close enough to the Princesses!). She loves when Santa comes to the mall at Christmas time - only to view him from 6 stores away and not a foot closer. When we go to our local train park over the December holidays to see all the lights, its always time to leave when the characters (Elmo, Snoopy, Bob the Builder, etc) come out and mill around with the children.

I can't even tell you how many birthday parties we have left because she took one look at the Chuck E. Cheese Rat and she couldn't even stay in the same building. . .and that brings me to the purpose of this post. Allie no longer insists on making a mad dash for the exit when she sees Chuck E. Cheese - she only needs to be on the opposite side of the restaurant and cling to an adult for dear life. . .that is progress, right?

Allie's 6th birthday is at the end of July and Missy Miss is having 2 birthday celebrations this year. Her birthday party is going to be held during the first part of August and is going to be a really fun pool party with a Camp Rock theme and lots of games and yummy food! She is having another celebration on her actual birthday when her sleepover club has their monthly sleepover at our house (ohhh, I can feel some good blogging material coming on. . .) and for months Allie has talked about wanting to go to Chuck E. Cheese. WWWWHHHHATTTTT?

I kindly, warmly, sweetly tell her that whatever she wants is fine and that sounds like a GREAT idea, but what about THE RAT? Allie tells me that she will be 6 and won't be scared of it. Well, gotta tell you, that answer just wasn't good enough for Mom. Soooo, I insist that my husband take her there for a trial run because the last thing I wanted to have happen was to arrive with Allie and all her friends on her birthday and for Allie to see THE RAT and clutch to one of us for dear life and drag us running out the door. And then all of us staring at each other wondering what to do next. No, that plan just wasn't going to work for me.

So, last night Hubby and I take Allie and one of her bestest buddies to Chuck E. Cheese for dinner. I can't tell you how excited Allie and her little friend were all day for our big evening activity. So, was our $46 dollar evening a success (yes - $46 dollars to eat gross pizza, some wilted salad with room temperature dressing, 4 drinks and 80 tokens, but I digress. . .)? I'll let you decide. . .

So, we get to Chuck E. Cheese and as we walk in, Allie couldn't have been more excited. I'm feeling a bit relieved at this point because in the past, all it took was for Allie to see the "fake" Rat in the party room on the right side of the stage and she was history. So, we walk in, get stamped, pick out our table and then we hear the music and dancing coming from the party room. We look over and The Rat is leading a bunch of happy kids in a dance. Allie runs to her Daddy, clutches in arm for dear life and tells him she want him to take her into the room to get closer. So, while I order dinner, Hubby takes the girls into the party room and walk as close as Allie would allow - a safe 10 feet from The Rat. But you know what, this is HUGE PROGRESS!

So, after a while they come back to the main room and we tell the kids they can play until the pizza comes and Allie stays at the table. A million questions - where is The Rat? will he come into this room? When? How long will he stay? Will he come near me? And we don't have any answers, but she finally agrees to go play with her friend under the strict promise that if Hubby or I see The Rat we have to run to her immediately.

And just as you would think, while Allie is halfway across the restaurant, we see The Rat coming into the dining room. So, Hubby wanders over to Allie (do men "get" the sense of urgency???) and as long as Daddy is next to her and The Rat is away from her, she is happy as can be. She is even happier when The Rat leaves.

And that was how our evening went. Happy and carefree if The Rat was out-of-sight. If The Rat was entertaining other happy kids, she was content so long as he was half-way across the restaurant and Daddy was no more than an inch or two from her being.

Surely, I thought, how fun can this be for her? She essentially is one step away from needing to be on anxiety medication for fear that she will see The Rat at every turn (boy was she relieved when she decided The Rat was a boy and no way would he be in the girl's bathroom - had she thought it was a girl I'm pretty confident she wouldn't have gone in the restroom).

And wouldn't you know it, 2 hours later she said she couldn't wait to come here with her sleepover club for her birthday because she is not as scared as she used to be. And then she said she couldn't wait to go to Disneyland again because just maybe she might want to be close enough to wave to Mickey this time.

I guess, who am I to judge what fun should look like or feel like, right?

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Veggie Mom said...

We visited Disney a couple of times when the girls were younger. The only photos we have of the two of them with Goofy, Mickey and all their friends is with either one, the other, or both girls either in tears, or trying to run away! Otherwise, though, they had a wonderful time on each visit. BTW, I'm having another Great Pop'rs Giveaway, starting tomorrow. Aunt Julie really needs the help of all her Bloggy Pals--she's planning a rehearsal dinner for 60 people! Hope you drop by soon! said...

I would laugh, but I understand what it's like to be afraid of the silliest thing. And really, being afraid of a giant rat isn't so silly after all!!

I took offense with one part of your post. I rather like Chuck. E. Cheese pizza!!!

(although I'm convinced we have one of the better Chuck E. establishments ever)


Here's to hoping her party goes well!

Harper's Mom said...

Smart kid - always fear a RAT! Responding to your comment on my site about quitting my blog - actually I was just going to make it private but I may have made that decision hastily. I'm having a hard time giving up the public side of blogging. I may retract my initiative! Cool you're an Emory Alum!

The Job Search Coach said...

I am in no way unfamiliar with seemingly irrational fears and phobias. :-) So I can sympathize with Allie. I'm glad that in the end, she had a great time.

I once went on a hayride with a friend and her daughter. Unbeknownst to any of us, the little girl was deathly afraid of... grass. She refused to walk across or touch it. So, we are in the back of the wagon, having a great old time flinging bits of... yep, DEAD GRASS, at this poor little girl. She was practically traumatized.

Kristinia - Loving Heart Mommy said...

I'm an adult and I can't stand to see any "clowns"... I've had a fear of them since I saw that dumb movie as a kid "Killer Clowns From Outer Space"... I totally freak.. I went to Busch Gardens during Halloween and they had these scary clown guys walking around, I thought I'd have a heart attack!

My son is okay.. with costumed characters soo far... He's seen Tigger, Scooby, and believe it or not I didn't pass out when we saw Daisy the Clown for storytime in my area... But I knew the lady behind the clown makeup , guess that helps...

My Vision said...

Great idea to do a trial run before the party! How much fun she's going to have on her big day! Sophia was scared at Legoland this year (she's almost three) and gets scared at the concept of going to a movie so I can relate.