Something unfortunate happened this month. I accidentally sissified my son. Nothing a little time and conditioning won't fix, but enough to make me feel like a total wuss. A couple weeks ago, Dan, Sam and I went for breakfast and an early walk on campus.
It's great because college students NEVER get to see babies - so they either squeal and coo like a bunch of old church ladies at a baby shower, or they get all "uhhh, uhhhh" and try to avoid eye contact - like if they look at us we might ask them to babysit.
We soon ran into a student we knew; he happened to fall into the "church lady" category. First he plucked a little American flag from the day-old 9-11 memorial which we were trying hard not to disturb. (But Sam waved it so fanatically and with such joy that I decided he didn't desecrate the memorial, he just inserted himself into it, making it considerably cuter.)
Then it happened. Said student reached down, picked up a long, squiggly earth worm and handed it to my son. No biggie, right? I played with worms as a child, and I believe that all kids should; you know, connecting with nature, getting your hands dirty, exploring and what-not. Except that I was holding Sam and he was, as babies tend to do, clinging to my shirt with a vice grip, pulling it down a tad in front.
I could see it coming from a mile away - I had exactly 6 nanoseconds before that earthworm was down my shirt, wiggling its way south between my breasts. I saw the scene unfolding in detail: me dropping Sam, trying to fish an earthworm from my bra - smushing it in process. College students horrifed - scarred: you can't un-see that.
No, this is not how I choose to start my day.
I decided to cut Sam off at the chase by having a collosal freak-out. This is how it played out in real time:
-Student picks up worm. -My eyes widen, pupils dilate, I inhale 85 liters of oxygen. -Sam grabs the worm. -I shout, incoherently, "UUUHHH, AHHH, NNN, NNN, NO! HE'S GONNA...DAN! GRAB IT! NO, NO, NO, WAIIITTTTTT. HE'S GOING TO PUT IT IN MY SHIRT!!!!!!"
It was at this point I realized how insane I looked. As if I were the type of woman who can't kill her own spiders and insists that her kids stay out of the dirt. Suddenly, I was overwhelmed with pressure to redeem my cool-mom reputation (did I have one of these to begin with? Let's say yes).
"No, wait, I like worms, worms are the best! EARTHWORMS FOREVER! Here, Sam, here! Check out this reallycoolawesome worm!"
I set Sam down, handed him the worm, and stood up quickly before he had a chance to shove it anywhere. As you might imagine, because of my melodramatic reaction, Sam equated earthworms with things like electrical outlets, ovens, glass vases, and bottles of floor cleaner. If we were playing Pyramid, the category would be "Things I Touch That Make Mom Scream And Wave Her Arms Around."
Sam wanted nothing to do with the worm - not even to eat it - which for Sam is the gravest level of disinterest. No amount of my best "happy mom voice," holding the worm, sharing the worm, laughing at the worm, watching the worm, or Dan and I juggling the worm was going to change his mind. He was terrified of it.
Now I have a little boy who is supposed to be all dirt and snails and puppy dog tails and he's afraid of earthworms.