def: Masklophobia (n) the fear of seeing huge animal mascots!
Disney World. Chick-fil-A. Monkey Joe’s. Chuck E. Cheese. Do you know what all of these places have in common? Graham and I can tell you – Characters in costumes. And Graham has a serious fear of anything in a costume.
It started with the Chick-fil-A Cow. I thought two-year-old Graham would get a real kick out of Cow Appreciation Day. But, I guess in his two-year-old reality, it is not commonplace for a giant cow to sneak up on you while you’re minding your own business eating french fries and drinking milk. Thinking that Graham just didn’t like the sudden sneak attack of the cow, I decided it would be best to take him up for a formal meet and greet with Mr. Cow. Um, yeah…. That’s when his full-on mascot phobia started. Apparently, it is not always best to attack your fears head on. For years, I had to listen to “NO COW!” every time we drove by a Chick-fil-A.
My parenting continued to improve when I invited Monkey Joe to drop by our house for a formal phobia intervention. Graham was shown the costume, and then a Monkey Joe employee put on each piece of the Monkey Joe outfit to show Graham that it is just a costume. Graham was scared but managed to keep it together until the head was on. Graham lost his cookies. That’s when my parenting skills really began to shine. I decided Graham would get the whole costume thing if I wore the Monkey Joe’s head. Yep, there will be much therapy in Graham’s adult-hood because of that day.
From then on, I decided I was no longer going to push the kid. Clearly, this was a real phobia, and something that he would have to work out himself. Which is why, when Monkey Joe was making an appearance at Family Night that was planned for my playgroup, I told Graham that he would not have to meet Monkey Joe.
I asked the management to show me who would be wearing the Monkey Joe’s costume, then Graham and I went up to the guy. “Do not come near our table please, once you wear the costume,” we told the guy. “We’re not big fans of characters.” Cool. Understood.
Monkey Joe came out about 15 minutes later. Graham kept an eye on him, but wasn’t freaked out. He felt comfortable knowing Monkey Joe knew the limits. When Graham grabbed for a cookie to eat after dinner, I told him if he went up to say hi to Monkey Joe he could have two cookies. After all, he had met the guy that was Monkey Joe and it’s only polite to say “Hi” to those that you know.
This struck a nerve with Graham. If anything, the kid is polite. Graham took my hand and we went up to Monkey Joe. To Monkey Joe’s credit he just stood there, shy himself, and waved at my child. Graham looked at me and smiled. “Graham,” I said, “We shake people’s hands when we meet them.” Graham obediently shook Monkey Joe’s hand and smiled. “Soft, right?” Yep, Monkey Joe is soft. Graham went back to his seat and ate his cookies.
Later on in the evening, Monkey Joe made a second appearance. “Wanna go up and say hi again since y’all are friends now?” I asked. Sure! Graham ran up and gave that monkey a giant hug. My pride overfloweth. My big boy embraced his fears in the name of being polite and friendly. What a kid.
Is your child afraid of characters in costume? Which characters send your kid running for the hills?