It all began on a trip to Red Robin when he was a year or so old. It was Family Night, so the robin, in its furry red get-up, was making the rounds. Bee was having none of it. I had to keep watch on the robin’s whereabouts all through dinner so that I could wave it away if it came anywhere near us. Bee sat on my lap the entire meal, just in case.
A fear of costumed mascots is pretty common for little kids.It’s understandable – they are big, they move, and they don’t look anything like real people. In Bee’s case, his fear actually generalized to anything furry that moves (except real animals, fortunately). Tickle-Me-Elmo was banished to our basement. And the wind-up chicks that the Easter Bunny brought? Bee did not think they were cute, to put it mildly. He wouldn’t even watch Sesame Street. He is the only toddler I know who panicked and ran away from the television when Elmo appeared.
We did get over the Elmo thing using good ol’ “gradual desensitization.” I held Bee while we watched Elmo together, starting off across the room from the television and then gradually moving closer and closer to the TV until we were sitting on the couch. We did this a few times, so that Bee eventually go to the point of being relaxed when Elmo was on, and now I don’t have to worry he’ll freak out if we turn on PBS.
Still, the mascot fear has lingered. So when we went to a high school football game Friday night, I was a little concerned about the mascot situation. Fortunately, “the wolf” stayed on the sidelines with the cheerleaders while we were far up in the stands. Still, Bee told me at regular intervals that it was time to go home. “Why do you want to go home?” I asked. “I no want wolf to come,” he told me. Poor baby! In spite of my reassurance that the wolf was staying with the cheerleaders and Zippy explaining to his little brother that it is just someone in a costume, Bee wasn’t convinced.
Saturday morning the front page of the Sports section featured a story about the girl who is the mascot. I showed Bee. “Look! It’s the girl who wears the wolf costume. Her name is Jennifer. She goes to school with your cousin.” I hoped this would help him to understand that there is a regular person in that costume and she isn’t anything to be afraid of. We studied the pictures together. Bee carefully inspected each one. “I want go to football game and see wolf,” he announced. Well I’ll be…
Now I’m really curious to see what happens the next time we go to a next game!