Olivia looked out the back window the other day at dusk, pointed out and said, "Scary!" As far as I could tell, she wasn't looking at anything but the waning light of the back yard.
I wonder if fear of certain things (the dark, spiders) is innate or if we somehow inadvertently transfer that to our children. I've been thinking about this lately because we've been trying to acclimate Olivia to Santa. He has a room at Local Theme Park where you can sit on his lap and have your picture taken with him. Olivia's initial reaction to Santa is always fear, and to battle this (so we MIGHT have a decent Olivia/Santa picture at Christmas), we provide her with a little Santa exposure each time we visit.
For the first several visits, she wanted to see him only from afar. Gradually, she started to wave at him or even come in the door of his photo studio. And then, thanks to a very good and gentle Santa, we had a breakthrough this week.
Santa worked very hard on her, sitting on the floor and doing high fives with her until he could get closer. Then they sang songs and read books until Olivia felt so comfortable that she grabbed the book from Santa and started talking to him about the pictures. She still didn't want Santa to hold her, but she wasn't so scared of him anymore.
We talked later about how Santa isn't so scary. Now Olivia says, "Santa scary? No!"
Today, Olivia and I went to storytime with Santa. She sat on the bench with the other kids and kept saying, "Santa coming!" while waiting for Santa. She sat and sang and talked to Santa with all the other kids. Such a transition from the kid who ran screaming from him the first time we went to story time.
Olivia has decided that other things are "scary". Dark places sometimes are scary, or loud noises. Interestingly, some of the things she recently pronounced to be scary are now some of her favorite things to do...like the old fashioned cars at the park. They run on really loud lawnmower-type engines, and she used to hate them. Now she just laughs and holds the steering wheel when we go on them.
I'm sure there's some natural tendency to be scared of strange men with beards, the dark or loud noises. It's nice to know that we can help curb some of her more irrational fears, though, by holding her hand while she faces those fears and comes to find out that it's OK after all.