Wednesday, January 20, 2010
The day after we arrived in Orlando, Big Boy, Tiny Baby, and I visited Downtown Disney. I was excited to introduce the dinosaur-obsessed Big Boy to the dinos at the T-Rex Cafe and thought we might just catch a glimpse of a Disney character or two. Won't he be delighted, I mused.
[Big] Boy, was I wrong.
One look at the animatronic triceratops at the entrance to the restaurant and Big Boy was in floods of tears, running for the exit. Things improved temporarily with a visit to the Lego Store, but deteriorated again when I, naively, suggested a ride on the children's train. He eagerly agreed, but then - once again - melted down when he heard the train whistle, declaring the whole business "too loud" and "scary."
You can probably guess his reactions to a visit from Goofy and a carousel ride.
Later that afternoon, Big Boy and I were snuggling on the couch after his nap, reading and sharing a snack - one of those crystalline moments when I felt like bursting with love for my son. Big Boy's mind was elsewhere. Still thinking of his morning assault from the various members of the animal kingdom, Big Boy told me, "I feeled scared at that place." I then noticed his cuticles, as ragged and torn as my own, and I had to wonder:
Have I made my toddler neurotic?
Personally, I tend toward anxiety. I worry about almost everything, almost all the time. I come by these habits honestly. My mother is a chronic worrier, as was her mother before her. And I fear that - through my genes or through my habits - Big Boy is the next in line to inherit this questionable prize.
This past summer, for instance, Big Boy and I attended a Mommy and Me swimming class. Throughout the lessons, he would cleave to me, fearful of the water, fearful of being dropped, fearful of the other kids' splashing. On the last day of the lessons, the kids were invited to slide down the waterslide with their parents. I was surprised when Big Boy agreed to try. Surprised and scared, that is: you see, I didn't want to go down the waterslide myself. But, for his sake, I agreed as well. We made our way up the ladder, me clinging to him as much as he was clinging to me. When we got to the platform, he started to cry. He declared the slide "scary" and back down we climbed - him in tears, me in relief.
But now I wonder: did my own fear on that slide platform transfer to him? Have my neuroses passed from my body to his?
Is it my fault that a little boy who loves All Things Train had to leave a tame and pint-size ride because the train whistle was too noisy? Or is he just two - funny and fickle and two - and I'm being even more neurotic than usual fearing that I've made my son neurotic?
A week in Orlando: no dinosaurs, no rides, no Magic Kingdom, no Mickey.
We missed the mouse. Whose fault was it?
Which elements of your own personality did you inherit from your parents? Which do you see in your kids?
Image: Mouse-19-Dec-2004 by Roger McLassus via Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license.