I don’t think of Dante as an especially anxious child, but his anxiety level has shot up recently, and it’s all focused on one thing: flies. As it got closer to May, he started to say, “I’m worried about the flies.” For whatever reason, he had it in his head that on May 1, warm weather would arrive and suddenly the place would be swarming with flies. He kept saying that he wanted April to have 31 days, or more, so that May wouldn’t come. We reassured him, but he remained worried.
Lucky for us, May 1 turned out to be a cold, wet day, so it was easy to demonstrate that nope, the flies haven’t descended upon us. The fly situation isn’t that bad in Colorado anyway — sometimes they can be around making a nuisance of themselves, but there are never bunches of them, and they aren’t the biting kind. For many days after that, he’d say to us, “I always thought that on May first that all the flies would come.” “I always thought” is a big speech formulation right now.
Still, the fear persists. Sometimes at night, or when he’s feeling particularly tired or stressed, he’ll say in this tiny, chokey voice, “I’m worried about the flies.” I have adopted a five point informational program about the flies, which we rehearse together when this happens:
1) The flies cannot hurt anything they land on. They are too small to hurt people or things.
2) The flies do not bite.
3) If you are outside and you see a fly, it will just fly away. If a fly gets trapped inside with us, usually it just wants out. I am good at opening the door and persuading the fly to leave.
4) If the fly doesn’t want to leave, we can whack it with a flyswatter or newspaper. [We bought a flyswatter especially for this purpose.]
5) You won’t see a bunch of flies at once — just one, maybe two.
Once we march through these points, he calms down and is able to sleep or whatever he needs to do.
From the department of not-at-all-amazing coincidences, this steep rise in anxiety corresponds exactly to Laura’s hospital stay. For those of you who don’t know, Laura developed a twist in her colon and had to have emergency surgery, then stay in the hospital for a week. (And for those of you wondering about the lack of updates on this blog, there’s your explanation.) My parents helped a huge amount with the childcare, and Dante handled it all really well for the most part, but I’m quite sure that he’s transferred a fair amount of his emotional processing over to this concept of the flies. The amount of fly fear is beginning slowly to decline, I think, so I’m hopeful that the reassurances are helping him work through the overall experience.