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Monday, March 12, 2007

Ursaphobia - whatever next!

[translation = Bear Phobia]
I stagger to the help desk lugging two over sized bags of library books, with the two that ‘won’t scan’ tucked under my arm. The librarian peers over the brim of her bifocals at me. I return the favour. I read the question that she has formulated in her mind but is too polite to voice; ‘she’s never gonna read those in a week! Whose is she tryin to kid?’

Each week I zip into the library and hurl a random selection of books into bags, check them out and zap back to the car with a seven day supply of bribes to remain at the dining room table, or distractions from the horror of what’s on the dining room table depending upon your viewpoint.[translation = food]

She’s right of course, I won't read them all. I will attempt to read them all, but there will be a significant percentage of the books that will fail to meet requirements with one or more persons. Obviously I avoid all books that have teddy bears on them as that is guaranteed, even now, after all these years to strain my son’s powers of tolerance. Whilst there is always the possibility that a teddy may lurk within the pages, at least it’s not there bare faced on the cover, to taunt and torture him.

Now I know what you’re thinking – ‘what has she been doing all this time? How old is that child now? 7? Seven and a half, and she’s still not managed to diminish the bear phobia?’ As usual you are absolutely right, but I’ve been trying to desensitize someone else to other things, not necessarily more important things but more encompassing things, like weather, food and temperatures. In the great scheme of things, the latter are more difficult to avoid, whereas teddy bears aren’t quite so all pervasive.

There again, perhaps you fall into the other camp and think – ‘oh please! Seven and a half and he’s afraid of bears! Get over yourself why don’t you!’ Yet again, I have rumblings like that myself, but it’s a question of degree. I know that his reaction to them is not proportional or rational. It would help if I had some inkling as to what he objects to so strongly, but I don’t. I have given due time and attention to the matter, but what with the speech delay, I’m no further forwarder.

As a result, I’ve just equated it to my own dislike of "clowns." If I have to admit to "Coulrophobia" a fear or rather an innate dislike of clowns, I'm not really in a position to cast aspersions at others. I can’t tell you quite why I don’t like them, but there it is. It’s not as if he doesn’t know a great deal about bears, real ones. Grizzlies, Black, Brown and Polar, as well as more obscure species such as the Spectacled bear, our particular favourite, he has no qualms about. Nope, it’s just the Teddy bear variety of bear that he finds so excruciating.

You would think that friendly little chaps like "Winnie the Pooh" would be exempt from this prejudice, but no.

Once home, I turn my attention to a few other trifles; facial expression being top on the list. Social interactions run a close second. Whilst the kiddie winkies are at school I start some serious in depth research on the outstanding matter. The fear of bears shouldn't really be a social impediment in suburban California, but where autism is concerned, anything goes. For now it whizzes it's way to the top of the list.

I have always been particularly partial to teddy bears myself. I recall a very special bear, a lemon yellow one with golden velvet ears and paws. It was sent from Hamley's by my grandmother to my baby brother, all the way to South Africa. My mother would religiously prop the bear up inside his cot. As soon as she left the room, he would fling it out unceremoniously. The bear became mine my default. Perhaps I should consult him? He might have some insight that I lack? There again, I felt so mortified at having acquired the bear by his failure to recognise that jewel of a bear, that when we returned home to England by sea, I spend my paultry savings on a singularly small and unattractive bear, to give to him by way of compensation. Jumbo Jet Tea Bags, as the bear became known, was cared for with great zeal, until he was threadbare and even less attractive than when he left the boutique.

"Watch out for dem bears!"
"See the bear."
But I'll start another campaign to address the issue of this "phobia" pretty soon. Afterall, if we're trying to 'fix' food, water and temperatures, what's one more phobia thrown into the mix?

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