My two-year-old is fairly fearless. When we were in San Diego on vacation, we visited Sea World, where there is a petting tank of dolphins. Our older daughter was happy to stand close to the tank and watch the dolphins from a safe distance, but her younger sister wasn’t content to merely watch. She lunged forward and gave a dolphin a good rub, only afterward noticing its open mouth and fine row of teeth. She turned to me and asked, “Will he bite?” I explained that he wanted to be petted, and as long as she touched his head and not his mouth she’d be fine. She considered this for a moment, then leaned forward to give him another head rub.
Which is why it puzzles me so much that she is absolutely terrified of bugs. Ladybugs and butterflies get a pass for some reason, but any other insect, winged or not, six or eight-legged, can induce such tremendous fear in her that she begins to tremble violently and becomes unable to function at all. She can’t shoo the bug or walk (or run) away. She just stands there, fists clenched, mouth in a grimace, eyes squinted, and skinny little legs shaking so bad that you can see her trembling from yards away. This has been going on for a full year now, with no signs of abating. Even her nightmares are almost exclusively about bugs.
I’ve explained to her that insects won’t hurt her, that she’s so big compared to them that she has nothing to fear, but nothing seems to calm her terror of them. Today she told me “Lions aren’t scary, snakes aren’t scary, but flies and spiders are.” How can you argue with logic like that?
I know it’s just a phase, and she’ll likely outgrow it. That since she never had stranger fear as a baby, and has never hesitated about trying new things, she was due for some inexplicable anxiety. But I look forward to the passing of this particular phase and hope the next anxious phase is about something that I have the right words to soothe.