Mr. Everything, being practically everything, has no fears. Well, at least he hides them pretty well. I know for a fact that he shutters at the thought of a snake, but he has never let the kids see that. He is a bigger man than I am. I taught my son an unreasonable, wild-eyed, crazy fear of snakes in a matter of one hour when he was four years old. What can I say? There was a snake in my closet, and it was striking at the craft supplies I was throwing at it! Hmmm…that would be a good story to write for you some day. You could laugh at my expense.
I want the record to reflect that I have actually touched a snake since then! We were at the Animal Kingdom, and I touched the little sucker. I even rubbed its belly, although I am quite sure it enjoyed it more than I did. I was amazed with myself, because I didn’t pass out or anything. The rest of my family did not even say, “Good job.” I faced the stupid snake for my children, and they didn’t even acknowledge it. Come to think of it, that pretty much sums up this trip for me, too. In fact, why do I keep torturing myself by facing my fears when no one even cares? Maybe I need counseling.
The first fear we faced on this trip was the fear of flying. Now, I’m not afraid of flying. In fact, I considered being a flight attendant once in the early 90’s. Of course, then I realized my fat butt would not easily fit in the aisles. I would’ve been knocking people out with my hips. It wouldn’t have been pretty.
No, this fear was my child’s. The Goose had decided she was afraid of flying. I have no idea when that happened, and I have no idea why. She had never flown before, so how did she know she was afraid? (Okay. Wait. That’s not good logic. I had never touched a snake before, so how did I know I was afraid? I guess I won’t use that line on her anymore about her fears. I hate it when overcome my own reasons.) On this trip, though, she got on a plane, and she flew, twice! She did great, and I was proud of her for not wetting her pants or anything. (That could have been embarrassing for a tween.)
Friday, I went all gangster on my fears. I knocked out two in one day. The first fear I faced was the fear of birds. I am terrified of birds. Actually, more accurately, I am terrified of birds’ feet…and their beaks…and their feathers. Okay. I’m pretty much terrified of birds. On Friday, I let a big ole’ parrot sit on my shoulder, and I didn’t die. Then, I held it like a baby. (I didn’t want its feet or beaks to touch my skin, but I did touch its feathers. That counts for something, right??) Then, we went in an aviary where we could feed lovebirds. Two landed on my hands at once, and I didn’t pass out! Thank goodness none landed on my head, or all bets would have been off.
No one told me what a good job I did by holding the birds. No one seemed to realize that I didn’t even pass out. When I pointed this out, the Goose informed me that I should be proud of her for holding the birds since she had an extreme fear of them. Hmp. I have photos of her in the lorikeet cage last fall. Some fear.
The next fear I faced was the fear of being in water with something swimming around me. Let me say that I am not afraid of dolphins. Really, I’m not. I’m just afraid of anything touching me in the water. Why? I have no idea. It just really freaks me out. To face this fear, I didn’t just get in a bathtub and free a goldfish in there with me. Oh, but no. I have to do things to the extreme (thus the “Not Average” in my name). I got in a cove with a 100 pound mammal flipping and swimming around me. Did you know that dolphins can kill sharks with a strike of their tail fins? Yep. They told us that right before we got in the water.
I swam with a dolphin! I held on to the dolphin’s fins and let it pull me through the water. Honest to goodness. I did. When I felt the tail fin bump me, I thought I was a goner, but I lived to tell the tale. The dolphin kissed me. I didn’t kiss it. I was laughing too hard, and I don’t kiss on the first date. It was an amazing experience, and I was so proud of myself for not screaming and running. No one even said, “Atta girl.” The man in our group who couldn’t swim was more proud of me than my own family.
On Saturday, since I was being all brave and all, I decided to go for it. I had already been in the water with a vicious killer dolphin that could have taken me out in fatal blow. I might as well snorkel. Actually, I wasn’t going to snorkel, but the Goose asked me to. She acted as though her happiness depended on me going out on the boat and getting in the water. Wanting to make my baby happy on vacation, I went. As I pushed off the side of the boat into the water, I reminded myself not to panic. Thank goodness myself listened, because it could have been an ugly scene.
At first, I had decided I just wouldn’t look in the water. I would just swim until they told me I could get back in the boat. Do you know how hard it is to swim with fins with your head up? I kept getting my feet tangled. I’m sure I looked like a flailing walrus in the water. So, I decided I might as well look. I held onto Mr. E the whole time, of course, because if I was going to die, I was taking him with me. He kept pointing out fish to me, as though seeing those was going to make me enjoy snorkeling. I thought I was doing fine, and I wondered why I had such a mental block against this. The sand below us was beautiful, and the water was pleasant. Then, he pulled me into the water over the reef. I remembered why I freaked out. There were things moving under me. There were wormy looking things. There were spiky looking things. There were swimmy looking things. (I really should have paid more attention in earth science so I would know the names of all these things.)
Snorkeling wasn’t bad. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad. I would much rather be in the boat than under it. Now, however, I can say I did it. When we got back to the shore, my family was so proud of me! They all hugged me and kissed me and told me what a good mother I was for facing my fears. (You believe that, right?) Really, no one even acknowledged that I had been so brave! The Goose, whose happiness depended on me being backside up in the water, didn’t even sit with me on the boat ride back. I love my family.
I know you are wondering what fears the Beetle faced. I’m not sure he faced any. However, you should have seen the look on his face when we told him he had to get vaccinated before getting back to the states! That was worth the price of admission. -Al