Sunday, August 28, 2011

When vacuum's come alive

Noah is afraid of the vacuum cleaner. One day a couple weeks ago he told me the vacuum scared him.

Now he's never liked the noise of the vacuum, and he makes sure it doesn't get too close to him when it is on, but he has never shown actual fear. In fact, over the past couple of months he has helped me vacuum and earned some money doing it. He was proud of himself that he could do it and do a good job.

So to hear him suddenly say he is afraid of it was surprising.

At first I thought he was using it as an excuse to not have to help me clean his room. I wasn't very sympathetic, as you can imagine.

But then he started talking about how it looked like it was smiling at him, and asked me to turn it around so the "face" part was towards the wall. He refused to walk past it if he thought he had to get too close to it.

When I left it in his room that day I was cleaning it, he freaked out.

It turns out he had a dream and it tried to eat him. Then a few days later he had a dream and it ate Kiel.

I can understand how that could turn into an irrational fear. At eight he still has magical thinking, right?

But still, he was almost humanizing it as he spoke of the vacuum. Like it was alive and was really going to come after him.

The fear seems to have eased up a bit. I saw him go up to it and pat it and say "good vacuum cleaner" the other day. Today he was fine with me using it with him right next to him.

I realize I over think everything about Noah. I remind myself of that whenever I start worrying about something he has done.

I'm having a hard time convincing myself that this is just normal eight year old behavior though. And I really don't think he is playing me; if he is, the kid is fucking brilliant.

Frankly, it scares me more than a little. Is this psychotic thinking? A tear in his link with reality? A glimpse at what is to come?



  1. My vote is for one last hoorah of magical thinking. It sounds like this is something that for whatever reason he does have a fear of and between magical thinking and the innate abilities of boys that age to exaggerate things in their mind that it just morphed into a very real fear right now. I also think that you're totally justified in overthinking things and that a dose of extra worry regarding him will probably get you farther than brushing things away would. Hugs!

  2. i dont like large fish because when i was about noahs age i had a dream that a fish bit my dads leg off and he bled everywhere and the driveway was filled with huge fish. I still dont like large fish... i'm 29.

  3. I agree that it's normal. When Grace was 8-10 yrs old, she used to make me show her my c-section scar to prove to her than I was her real mom and not an alien invading her body. Erin is 10 and she is going through a phase of having a hard time getting to sleep because she's afraid of people breaking into our house, same as Grace did at the same age. I think it's great that he's getting over it by making himself pat the vacuum and say it's good - that actually shows, in my mind, a great coping skill - he's talking himself through it. Laura

  4. Random dreams can be powerful influences on even a rational mind. Sometime in my late teens, I had a terrible nightmare concerning earwigs, and instantly went from no particular feelings about them one way or the other to being pretty darn freaked out by them - they brought back all the frightening imagery and emotions from the dream.

    I also agree so much with Jamey's comment. All of it. A young overactive imagination can magnify things to the point that they're as good as real, and that isn't terribly abnormal. But, still, you know your kid.

  5. I was deathly afraid of a hanging lamp. Thought it was going to come to life and strike me down. I don't know why. I used to have so many bad dreams about this dumb lamp.
    I also had a fear of the roofing tar that would ooze and drip on our back porch in the summer. I was convinced it was a breathing, living thing, out to get me.

    And I'm a pretty normal adult, now!!