Wherein my mad parenting skills fail me

We had a play date yesterday with some new friends of ours. They hosted, so we got to play with someone else’s toys, trash someone else’s backyard, eat someone else’s food. I’ll never understand why this is so awesome to kids, but it’s like Christmas, birthdays, and a trip to Chuck E. Cheese wrapped up in chocolate and rolled in Pixie Stick dust. The girls were excited to see their friends, and very curious about this new place we were going. What toys will they have? What will their house look like? Will there be cookies? Can I go potty? CAN I PLAY WITH THEIR SNAKE?!

As it turns out, a snake wasn’t the only pet they have. They had 2 dogs: a chihuahua and the other one was big and gentle. I’d like to point out, both the girls were entranced by the snake, and I’m pretty sure I will be Cult Leader’s first target if I don’t get her one. Anyway, Evil Genius, who happens to love pointing out animals, heard the dogs before she saw them. “A woof-woof!” She was really excited about these faceless woof-woofs until…

…they rushed into the house.

You guys, my kid Lost Her Shit. And had about 5 cows. And then Lost More Shit. This was the most hysterical I’ve ever seen this child. She was shaking from head to toe, screaming, burying her face in my shoulder. It was so sad! I had no idea how to deal with it. When Cult Leader Loses Her Shit, it’s usually just a matter of getting her out of the situation and giving her space until she’s done. But Evil Genius is my more even child. She doesn’t have a lot of tantrums, she doesn’t get hysterical, she doesn’t sob for hours. It’s the most helpless I’ve felt since, well, that one incident that I will write about later, because what kind of kid falls backward off a metal slide, hits the stairs on the way down, and is fine 5 minutes later? And what kind of mom is traumatized by such an event? This kid and this mom right here. It deserves a blog post.

But I digress.

I was totally helpless, and did the best I could to calm her fears. Apparently I sucked at it, because she wouldn’t let me put her down. I don’t know if you know this, but a 30 pound toddler isn’t easy to hold for long periods of time. I tried over and over to detach her from my neck, but apparently she was pretty fond of becoming my new necklace. There were moments where I could set her on the ground and she would be fine. She’d play with her friend, she’d chase the older girls, she’d be occupied by some toys, but then she’d hear the woof-woofs, or she’d see them, and she’d practically jump into my arms.

I think she’s scarred for life. This presents a problem, because my in-laws have a new dog at their house, and we are thinking about getting Cult Leader one. I have it on good authority that certain breeds of dogs are good for kids with ADHD, and I have this thing where I like helping my daughter cope with her brain. I’m not really sure how to help Evil Genius. Could I take her to an animal shelter and toss her in a cage full of dogs, much like our grandparents taught our parents how to swim my throwing them in the pool? No? Bad idea?

Hmmm.

I guess we’ll play the wait and see game. If anyone has any tips, I’d be happy to take them. My girls are going to need enough therapy when they’re older; being traumatized by dogs isn’t something I want for them.

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About That One Girl

I do a bang up job of pretending to be a stay at home wife and mother. I also pretend to be a writer with my blog A Center in the Insanity. (https://acenterintheinsanity.wordpress.com, go check it out!)

Posted on 2011/07/16, in Family life and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Conor used to be afraid of some dogs (usually ones that wouldn’t leave him alone and just wanted to sniff or play with him and he’d be overwhelmed), but as he’s gotten taller and older, he’s gotten better with those same dogs. I think a huge part of it is height and having a dog right in their face. My parents also have a little dog who Conor isn’t very fond of because she yips at him and jumps on him.

    Anyway, my point is, I bet she’ll get over it as she grows a bit! As for getting your own dog, we have two and one barks/growls easily, even though she won’t harm a fly. She just wasn’t socialized when she was a baby puppy and so she thinks growling means that she loves you. This, of course, confuses Conor, and we’ve had to do a lot of work about how to approach her and making sure he has lots of positive interaction with her. It took some time, but he loves her now! I wouldn’t worry about her staying afraid of a dog you end up getting in your home, I am willing to bet she’ll get over it quickly once she trusts the dog 🙂

  2. Dog-Bonkers kid should visit my dog. He’s awesome.

  3. I read about some social research done on the subject in a classroom with younger school-aged children. The details boiled down to essentially this: A number of them were afraid of dogs but after being shown videos that showed similarly-aged children playing with dogs, a large percentage of them would climb right into the dog pen and play happily with it.

    Read the real thing here: http://books.google.com/books?id=mTYj9XUlYvMC&pg=PA118&lpg=PA118&dq=cialdini+children+dogs&source=bl&ots=9Z9sEkbdm6&sig=YrfFN-dFovg6SlkqtYQiTClnPkE&hl=en&ei=ERkiTtCrEoTmiAK0up2jAw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBUQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

    Show Evil Genius videos of children her age playing with dogs. Point out other kids her age that play with dogs. That should help.

  4. If Cult Leader is really set on a snake, a Rosy Boa is a great way to start. I have one, there are probably a few pics of him tucked away amongst all my cat photos on Facebook. They’re small (3 feet or so – small for a boa), still have that easygoing boa personality, are good feeders (he’ll refuse the mouse if he’s not hungry but he’s NEVER regurgitated one or anything), pretty much never have shedding issues (Sam hasn’t in the 4 years or so that I’ve had him), are super gentle, love to be held, have really moderate heat requirements (78-82), can stay in a 10 gallon aquarium their whole lives, don’t need any added humidity, don’t need any UV lights… Wonderful snakes. 🙂

  5. I do Dogsmart classes for kids in this exact situation. While I obviously can’t do one with Evil Genius since we’re in different states I will tell you the one thing I tell all parents of my clients and that is that the most important thing you can do is act like dogs aren’t scary. There are a bunch of safe tips to keep in mind when you’re around dogs (ignore barking, stand still as a statue if approached by a dog you don’t want to be friends with yet, learn to read their body language, etc) but more than anything the long term fears of dogs come from the parents sheltering the child everytime they come near a dog because of that one time she cried and you want to avoid. If everytime she sees dogs she never gets any physical or verbal cues that she should be scared (as opposed to safe) then it shouldn’t take too long to subside. On top of that you can try teaching her safe ways of meeting dogs and make sure the next couple interactions are controlled environments (leashing the dog even while inside just until shes comfortable) and really I can talk to you lots more about the subject if you want.

    And I also second shalora’s recommendation of getting a rosy boa (or a kenyan sand boa, essentially the same thing, different continent) for Cult Leader if you’re really considering it.

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