As a young child, my son had a fear of ventriloquist dummies, other people wearing masks and fear of mascots and characters. He did not like anything that falsely represented a human as it caused confusion. (Is it real or not?) He also has a fear of flies.
I remember when he was younger taking him and my niece to a toy shop, and there was a person dressed up as a cartoon character waiting outside. He, of course, refused to go into the shop. Maybe because of the uncertainty of the situation?
The Photo Challenge
Over the years, my son did manage to pluck up the courage and had a photo taken with a mascot seagull at a seaside resort. He was hesitant yet determined at the same time. It was a quick photo, but he was so happy that he managed to do it and I was glad that he had succeeded. You see, my son is the type of person who most times wants to face his fears. He could have chosen to avoid having the photo taken, but he was set to have one.
Let me explain why…
The previous year we had visited that same seaside resort, and he had the chance to have a photo taken with a different character, but he refused. It was ok with me, so we just went on about our day as usual. Only when we got back home that I had realized how much it had bothered him not taking that photo. For months it had played on his mind so to visit the same place again and have another photo opportunity, he decided that this time was his moment to overcome his fear.
Fear of the Dummy
Fast forward to the first release of Goosebumps the movie. I thought that my son would now be ok seeing the movie. So, I took my son to the cinema only for him to be petrified of Slappy the Dummy. Maybe it was the vacant look in the dummy’s eyes or his disturbing appearance, either way, the dummy freaked him out.
Well, my son came up with something amazing. Over three months, he looked up images daily of Slappy on his iPad. He would peep at the image and then look away. He would gradually move onto uploading an image and zooming in on Slappy’s cheek and just would study this area for five minutes. The same process with his eyes, the nose, the lips….etc. Bit by bit my son would examine the image of Slappy. He went at his own pace to analyse his fear so this way he was in control of the situation.
My son watched a video of how the dummy was made, and from the video, he finally had reassurance that the dummy was not real. He was prepared and ok to watch the second movie. We did so, and he was ok with Slappy.
He now has a Slappy costume and a Goosebumps board game. He even creates Slappy inspired artwork!
Welcome to the VIP Club
One of my son’s special interests used to be Little Big Planet, in particular Sackboy.
I mean for a very long time he was fixated with this, but now the irony is that one of his fears is now what he has an intense obsession with. A special interest is different from something he just likes. It takes over his life. It is kind of strange for me now as I can’t believe that I am saying this, but I miss the Sackboy days.
If you would have told me years ago that my son would be fixated with a ventriloquist dummy? I would have said not a chance!
I am so proud that he has overcome a fear, however now it is all about Slappy. I am working on balancing my son enjoying his new VIP guest while ensuring that he is entertaining other things throughout the day.