At the risk of sounding like I have some sort of obsession with Little Bear, I need to report that I am again having an issue with this show. First, however, I should say that I need to correct one of my points from my earlier Little Bear post: Mitzi the monkey does indeed talk, so my concerns may be a little less exaggerated than I orginally thought.
Yesterday, a no nap day, O. was watching a new episode of Little Bear while I was trying to get done some of the things I would have done during the non-existent nap. As I was unloading the twelfth sippy cup and its parts from the dishwasher (still soaking wet-- even though I use the "ungreen" heat cycle and the clean dishes had been in the dishwasher for more than a day -- I HATE having to either dry off my plasticware or sit it around on the counter until it air dries. What is up with this?), O. appeared and hid behind my knee with a stricken look on his face. When I asked him what the matter was, he muttered something about a monster and looked frightfully towards our family room. I knew he was watching Little Bear, taped on Noggin, so there should not have been any Spiderman commercials to cause concern. I looked out into the living room to see if there were shadows of some sort causing a disturbing shape, but no. I wondered if the falling Christmas tree incident (another postworthy moment) was causing a postraumatic flashback.
Then I glanced at the TV screen to see a very scary looking monster bear indeed. It seems the episode I had recently taped about "grumpy father bear" involved Father Bear turning into a monster in Little Bear's imagination. While everything works out in the end, and Father Bear morphs back into the loving parent he normally is, I think the subtle fantasy/reality nuances were a bit beyond my two and a half year old. I had to go sit beside him, rewind it, and talk him through it, using words like "pretending," "being silly," "tricking" and "not real." I did not get this episode erased off the DVR immediately, and Daddy played it again unknowingly this morning. He reported that O. watched it from behind the baby swing, so I'm not sure how effective my fear remedies were.
All this after I was starting to think we were making progress on the "scary" front. We've had months of trauma related to a kindergartner in my mom's group waving a Spiderman villain around in O.'s presence, and then later appearing in a Phantom of the Opera mask. O. flees the room in sheer terror anytime this child makes an entrance, even sans mask and action figure.
I know he has a vivid imagination, as we are always discussing invisible animals that have appeared in the room, like "fumas" and "mean wolves" (actually pumas and maned wolves). One of his favorite pastimes is to pretend he has fallen into the "holes" in the carpet made by the legs of furniture, and needs a rope to be thrown to him to get out. So, I've been worried that the nightmares and a runaway fantasy life were only going to get worse.
I should say that I grew up with a younger brother who was terrified of many things -- clowns, Halloween masks, scary movies, picture taking, teenage girls (they all looked like babysitters to him) in his toddler/preschool years. We had to plot our movements carefully in malls adn public places so as to avoid meltdowns. You'd be surprised how often clowns make an appearance in everyday life -- the Ground Round was forever off limits after a balloon sculpture moment, and I mourned the loss of a place where you could go and throw your peanut shells right on the ground, for goodness sakes. I know my brother hates for me to tell these stories, but I have really been bracing myself for a life that involves scoping out the placement of a Spencer store in the mall around Halloween time, and I have not been too happy about it.
But yesterday, we had a good visit with Santa Claus, something I initially wasn't even going to attempt this year. He kept his head bowed down and wouldn't really smile for the camera, but he did manage to let Santa know that he wanted "a top and a ball" before fleeing for the post-lap basket of suckers. So, I thought, maybe we're getting a handle on this and he's starting to gain some interior self-confidence.
Leave it to Little Bear to set us back a few paces.