Here Come the Bugs of Summer
Now that summer is here, the bugs are back and for some kids, bugs bring terror.
My grandchildren are all afraid of spiders. Not monsters, ghosts or bears, just spiders. I wish they had my aversion to mice, bats and snakes, but they think mice are cute, bats are fascinating and snakes are just slithery. When they come to the cottage, I wait for the scream that inevitably is followed by one of them running inside because they’ve seen a spider. It’s always a humungous one too.
Every spring, I religiously sweep the walls inside the cottage for webs. Taking down spider webs outside is a weekly ritual and even with this diligence, there is still a raft of them, having propagated overnight, waiting to haunt my grandchildren. Having had a mouse scamper over my legs as I slept one summer night, I can understand a phobia about mice, but I confess I have little sympathy for a fear of innocent spiders.
Certainly, children who have a venom allergy need to be protected from stings from honeybees and yellow jackets. There’s often no way of knowing ahead of time that a child has an allergy, unless there’s a family history or an asthmatic condition, which may present a risk for a serious venom allergy. “We do keep an EpiPen handy, just in case,” Gail explains.
Everyone has a negative reaction in the form of swelling from bee stings as well as bites from black flies, mosquitoes and yes, even spiders. And children who are afraid may have been bitten, and this experience is the basis for their fear.
Talking grandchildren through their terrors is one tactic to use. To them, their fears are serious and we need to respect those feelings if we hope to have them receptive to our opinion and reassurance. Sympathy and understanding is what a grandchild has come to expect from a grandparent and sympathy also tends to diffuse anxiety. Find out where the fear originated and what experience she has had that may have fueled the terror. Take her to the library and check out books about bees or insects and find information on the internet to arm her with knowledge about the bugs in question, the risk of bites and stings and what the two of you can do to prevent being stung.