What Makes YOUR Kid Freak Out?

So then…she shrieks, “The fly! The fly is on my food!”

At age 5, Chloe is absolutely terrified of a fly that’s been menacing her for the past hour. I’m beyond exasperated.

She is a little tired – and the fly is rather huge, persistently buzzing around her head and her plate, no matter how often we shoo him away. But she’s driving me crazy with her squalling.

When "Mom Logic" Fails -- It IS pretty Funny!

I try to remember how my parents handled such histrionics when I was a kid.

My Dad would have laughed and said, “Don’t worry, honey. He won’t eat much.”

I try this on Chloe.

Chloe squeals, “But the fly is DIRTY! He’s making my food DIIIIRTY!”

I think about how my Mom would handle this.

Whenever my siblings or I would complain about an apple falling in the playground dirt – or sand blowing on a popsicle at the beach – Mom would say authoritatively, “Oh, go ahead and eat it. They say you have to eat a peck of dirt before you die anyway.”


Who says that? At the time, I remember being instantly worried about that concept as my sandy popsicle dripped on my little 7-year-old self.

Is that a law? Does the government say I have to eat a peck of dirt before I die?

Who’s monitoring that? What possible program has been put in place to ensure I eat a peck of dirt during my lifetime?

And if I avoid dirt, will I live longer?

What a brilliant age-defying scheme! I need to tell people this:
Want to live longer? Eat less dirt.

And how much is a peck anyway? What unit of measurement is that?

I know what a gallon is – and a pound – and a cup. But what’s a peck?

I’ve heard of a bushel and a peck.

Is a peck as big as a bushel? Because a bushel is HUGE! Do I have to eat THAT much dirt in my lifetime? I’m really worried now. Maybe I should set up a quota system to ensure I get all that dirt in – maybe a tablespoon a week? Two tablespoons? And do I eat it right off the spoon – or maybe ask for it to be cooked into spaghetti sauce? How am I going to manage this whole new requirement? A peck of dirt!


Chloe’s cry brings me back to the present with a jolt. She is now jumping around the kitchen, flapping her arms and screeching about the fly.

I’m trying to swat the fly away from her, while maintaining a calm composure. “It’s just a little fly, honey, it’s not going to hurt you.”


“Honey, it’s nowhere near you. You’ve got to calm down.”

More shrieking, more crying, more flapping. She’s inconsolable.

“Chloe, let’s just go upstairs, OK. It’s close to bedtime anyway.”


I say, impatiently, as though that’s a ridiculous idea, “Don’t worry, he’s not going to fly upstairs.”

She whips her head around in disbelief: “What do you mean he’s not going to ‘fly upstairs?’ He’s a FLY! That’s what they DO!!”


Good point.

Um, excuse me, I’m going to the backyard for my daily dose of dirt.

— Darcy Perdu

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(Any insects/animals that freak out your kids?  Do you say absurd things to calm your kids down — or distract them?  Does YOUR “Mom Logic” ever fail?)

Original Illustration for So Then Stories by Shelly Draven

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11 replies on “What Makes YOUR Kid Freak Out?

  1. Lily said:

    Of course you had to tell her the fly wouldn’t follow her upstairs! I lie to my children regularly. “This shot won’t hurt.” “Oh, that Toys R Us is closed right now for renovations.” “Of course I won’t eat your Halloween candy while you’re sleeping.”

  2. Kate said:

    That fly bugging your daughter reminds me of the passenger next to me on a flight one time. She enjoyed chatting, but I was writing at the time, and I tend to gesture with my hands, so everytime my pen was in motion, she’d totally freak out. She’d recoil a bit and stare as though the pen was going to attack her. So I tried to tone down my gesturing, but she kept reacting with such fear and loathing that I finally said jokingly, “Everytime this pen gets close to you, you freak out. Did you have a traumatic childhood incident involving a pen or something?” She looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Yes.” I didn’t know what to say after that.

  3. Juliet said:

    I read that each year, every person swallows 5 insects while sleeping. EWW!!!

  4. Anna said:

    My daughter was probably about the same age as Chloe when she became terrified of snails. She was hugging the wall on the back porch, refusing to walk past one so she could come into the house, SCREAMING for someone to carry her because the snail was going to get her. It took me a couple of years to convince her that snails don’t bite and that yes, she could outrun them.

  5. Lynn Marie said:

    This week one of my children lost their tooth in school. He proudly brought it home in the little molar container that they give them. It has a string attached to it so they can proudly wear their icky tooth like a prize. (Teeth in general freak me out and it takes everything I have when my kids run up to me and show me how loose their tooth is to not vomit in their face. Wearing a tooth around your neck disgusts me in the same fashion.) My husband and I tell him to go put it under his pillow so the “magical” tooth fairy would show up.
    The next morning I’m standing in the kitchen drinking my cup of coffee and trying to gather my thoughts for the day. “The tooth fairy didn’t leave me any money for my tooth” is how my thought is interrupted. Without skipping a beat I say, “Maybe the tooth fairy just didn’t see your tooth…Okay, never mind. The tooth fairy isn’t real. Your dad and I are the ones that put the money under your pillow. I will bring you some money after work.” For a moment I feel bad about my indiscretion so early in the morning. However, in all fairness I am not a morning person and everyone in my house knows it. I tend to be even more honest than I should be at that time of day.
    I wait for the backlash of what I just said. I looked his face over to see the tears in his eyes and his crushed hopes and dreams. Nonchalantly he says, “No worries, I’ve known it was you guys all along. I just know that I won’t get my money if I don’t say anything.”
    I’m stunned and selfishly left wondering if this ploy will work for the Easter Bunny as well….
    8 year old – 1 me – 0

    • Sharla said:

      My daughter busted me on the tooth fairy thing when she was 5. I had told her 6 months before that fairies weren’t real after a girl in her grade was telling her about evil fairies. A couple of days after she lost her 4th tooth, she walked up to me after church and said, “Mommy, you’re the tooth fairy, cause you said fairies aren’t real. Right?”

      Me:…..Go ask your daddy.

      Are they supposed to be this smart at 5??!!

      • ha! busted!

        but Sharla, there ARE evil fairies! They sneak into my closet each night and sew my clothes tighter!
        at least I THINK it’s the fairies — and not my Ben & Jerry’s addiction!

  6. jstumm said:

    My 3 y o boy is scared of anything that moves – snails, slugs, ladybirds, birds, cats, dogs, woodlice, worms – we have regular problems with walking out the house! But lately he has also become scared of the Moon! No idea why, and he can’t articulate enough to tell me. But at least bed times are earlier – when the curtains are closed and you are asleep you can’t see the Moon!

    • The moon? That IS an interesting one — but I actually agree with your son on everything else he’s scared of — especially woodlice and worms! Eeeeek!