Garden Road 3-13-18

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Red Rock Canyon west of Las Vegas, a popular locale for rock climbers. / Photo by Norma Ratliff

One couple out east manages a special museum. It is full of objects believed to be haunted. Hollywood filmed a movie based on a doll locked behind glass. It’s a Raggedy Ann. In the movie, they made its face ceramic and hideous. No sane parent would buy that doll if they wanted their daughter to sleep again.

I could begin a museum based on things my daughter Jasmine fears. She rooms with her big sister Natalie. Natalie owns a golden cat, like one you would see next to the cash register in a Chinese restaurant, that waves one paw. Though it has sat on a shelf for some time, Jasmine decided one day it was terrifying. Her father removed the cat before Jasmine could nap. I placed it on the fridge downstairs.

Last weekend, Jasmine told me the cat needed new batteries, but also not to touch it. She is making progress.

Periodically, I must remove a box elder bug from Jasmine’s proximity. “A bug, a bug!” she says. In her museum there would be a large box full of box elder bugs, some living, some dead.

I attempted to reason with her, in a calm voice, how these bugs are harmless. “A bug!” my daughter countered my argument. The black-and-red insect crawled onto my hand, and I released it into the wild.

Oddly enough, some of the things Jasmine fears the most later become her favorite toys. My mother bought an interactive dog from the children’s TV show Paw Patrol. It began talking. It became a source of fear for Jasmine. The dog went back home with Grandma. But last weekend, Jasmine spent most of her time playing with the dog. It is no longer part of her fear museum.

A healer, of the old-fashioned kind, told us Jasmine was sensitive to her surroundings, in a way that goes beyond empathy. It fits my wife’s profile of Wes as mind, Grant as body, and Jasmine as spirit.

In my childhood ‘markers’ book from the late 1970s, my mother kept a lock from my first haircut. There was also a section where a parent could detail the fears of their child. My list was somewhat lengthy. Lightning, geese, cows, pigs, to name a few things that terrified me. I believe my mother ended with a softly sarcastic ‘etc.’ to end the sentence. I wasted too much of my youth being afraid. I surrounded myself with stuffed animals, then pushed them off the bed when it seemed they were glaring at me.

I know Jasmine will outgrow her sensitivity. Maybe that’s not a good thing. It’s dangerous to become too rational. When Grant complains he’ll be alone after I tuck him in at night, I point out our cat Bubbles is keeping him company. Grant replies, ‘No. I want a human.’