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Image credit: FunnyAnd.com

As children, we’re often frightened by the most mundane, sometimes seemingly bizarre things: the dark, monsters under the bed, the flush of the toilet, the gurgle the bathtub makes when you pull out the plug, dogs, cats, sharks (yes, of course, in the pool), birds. Any animal really, for me, it was chickens. My grandfather kept them and I was attacked by his rooster once). It doesn’t have to make sense, it just has to strike terror into your tiny little soul.

I was afraid of all of the above when I was little and, to be honest, it can take awhile for those latent fears to totally dispel.

  • I hated the dark (still do).
  • I was convinced there was a monster under the bed. In reality, it was a kitten that would lie in wait for you and then pounce – claws out, bitches! – when you got out of bed.
  • I flushed the toilet and ran away, especially in airplane toilets (have actually only just stopped doing that).
  • Used to leap out of the bath as soon as the “crocodile” started acting up in the drain. Am over this one now, thankfully.
  • I soon learnt to walk, not run, away from dogs that were chasing me. I now have two dogs of my own.
  • Still terrified of sharks in open water. I have come to terms with the fact that they can’t get me in the pool (or if I step on the ground after watching Jaws).
  • Cats, I still don’t like. Minions of Satan, all of them.
  • Oh yes and birds, still don’t like them. Pigeons, Indian mynas, seagulls, chickens – damn them all, pesky harbingers of disease, rats of the sky.

So you see, some fears (or perhaps you can call them “unpleasantries”) die hard.

Another thing that frightened me, for no apparent reason, was my Great Auntie Ivy. Her and Great Auntie Beattie went everywhere together. They were both very old (at least, they appeared that way to me) but while Auntie Beattie dyed her hair orange-y brown and was a bit softer, maybe a tiny bit younger and, perhaps most importantly, gave me money, Great Auntie Ivy was skinny and grey haired and had a mole on her lip. In short, to a child with a very active imagination, she was scary. Like witch-scary.

As a child, I was happy to hug Auntie Beattie but, as soon as Auntie Ivy leaned in, it was tear time. Invariably, the other kids would follow suit. Looking back on it, I feel really bad. Of course, I didn’t mean to be cruel, I was just scared of her. She looked like a skeleton to me. She looked mean and, as a child, you have no sense of censorship. Your reactions and feelings are pure and totally bare and so, if someone scares the crap out of you, you’re going to bawl your eyes out and run to your mum.

In most cases, you grow out of your fears. You realise they’re silly or you can at least rationalise your way out of cowering under the covers in a state of abject terror. Full disclosure: I watched Paranormal Activity a few years ago and had to sleep with the light on for at least a week afterwards. Yep, I am a full grown adult (debatable) and still scared of the dark and/or paranormal demons come to torment me in the night. Still, cut me some slack, it was a really scary movie.


Image credit: L. E. Carmichael