A screech, a cry, the splashing of water and then the wailing of a frightened air raid siren historically lets us know when someone else has jumped into the bath with one of the kids. Well, not so much someone else as something else.
Nothings clears the bathtub quicker than a bug, be it ant, mosquito, caterpillar, centipede, fly or spider. I really must keep one in a jar in the bathroom for when they’re being obstinate and refusing to get out.
Not that our kids stood much of a chance. The list of things I’m ‘scared’ of is fairly extensive, and includes flying, heights, needles and Tracey, all in equal measure.
Tracey, on the other hand, has one fear above all others.
When we arrived at our friends’ place for dinner, Tracey had organized to take photos of two of our friend’s kids. As she was heading into the field of ankle deep grass she asked if, in the two weeks since they’d moved in, they’d come across any snakes.
“A couple,” they said. “But only in this field.”
I’m not sure how focused that particular set of photos will be because I’m not sure Tracey built up the courage to take her eyes off the ground and look through the viewfinder.
“Aren’t you worried about the kids?” Tracey managed to say when she called it a wrap and walked (loudly and quickly) back to the house.
“No,” said our friend. “I more pity the snake if one shows itself to our lot.”
“They’re not scared of snakes?” asked Tracey. Her tone wasn’t one of surprise so much as disapproval, as though it’s a parents job to make sure their children have a healthy fear of these creatures.
“No,” our friend answered, “not snakes. But, oddly, my daughter is petrified of butterflies.”
Even I raised an eyebrow at this.
“Yep,” confirmed our friend. “Butterflies. This from the girl who once refused to let us move a dead cane toad because she wanted to see what happened to it. Every day she’d go out and tell us how it was disappearing. But the sight of a butterfly sets her off into a tizzy.”
“Maybe she’s going to be a pathologist,” said Tracey encouragingly.
“That, or a serial killer,” said her mum. “We figure it could go either way at this point.”
Clearly she’d been thinking about nothing else since our conversation in the car. Even as we were driving out to the property she was looking wistfully out the window.
“I’d love to live in the country,” she said. Then, before the last word is even out her mouth, her expression changed and she added predictably, “Except for all the snakes.” She looked at me accusingly. “You’re scared of snakes.”
“No, I’m not,” I told her defiantly. “That’s your thing.”
Typical, her trying to bring me around to her way of thinking. She does all the time with regards the kids. ‘They need new clothes. You agree with that.’ It’s a statement, not a question.
“So you’d be okay with picking one up,” Tracey continued, refusing to let the snake thing go. Snakes are to be feared. There is no sane alternative.
“Hell, no,” I said with no need for any thinking about it at all. “But that doesn’t mean I’m scared of them. I just don’t want them wriggling in my hands. I won’t touch a fish for the same reason, but they don’t scare me.”
As I drove along the dirt, pot-holed road I could feel her eyes boring into me.
“So if you saw a snake-”
“-I’d run like the billy-o, yes.”
So tonight, when our kids evacuated the bath like one of them had pooed in it and the cause turned out to be nothing more than a tiny, wing-soaked, flying insect, I turned to Tracey.
“I’m definitely not scared of bugs,” I told her, reaching into the bath and picking out the little critter.
“Me either,” she said, taking the bug from me and releasing it outside.
“So these fears are all their own?” I checked.
“Yep,” said Tracey. “I’m so proud.”
“So what do you think our kids will become?’ I asked her. “Biologists? Exterminators?”
“Neurotic bloggers or paranoid parents,” she suggested. “It could go either way.”
Our ’BIG FAMILY little income’ Facebook Page
’raising a family on little more than laughs’