When I was eight years old, on an early June afternoon, another eight year old girl who lived a few miles from me was abducted on her way home from school. She was found murdered in a culvert just blocks from her house.
I remember my Mom watching me walk to school the next morning, which she had never done before. I could sense her fear. It was the first time I can recall really being scared.
Shortly after this incident, I had a nightmare that the girl’s killer was in my room. I dreamed that he was hiding behind my bedroom door and I was facing certain death. The murder was never solved, so I have no idea what the killer looked like. But in that nightmare, my eight year old mind had a detailed image. The murderer was Mr. Clean.
In my dream, I slowly pulled the door back to reveal him standing there with a broom. Mr. Clean was sweeping my floor. It took many years before I could buy any of his products. But, those Magic Erasers? Well, they make my heart skip a beat.
My point is that even rational fears can sometimes turn irrational.
Some friends of ours are having a hard time with their daughter. She is suddenly terrified of tornados. Rational? Yes.
When she sees a random gray cloud in the sky, she begins to freak out. Rational? No.
I used to housesit for a neighbor when I was young and they had a cat that would greet me by standing on its hind legs while hissing and baring its teeth. From that experience, I grew to be truly scared of cats. Rational? Yes.
When a friend’s cat comes purring and rubbing against my legs, it might as well be a boa constrictor. Rational? No.
I even know a grown man with a true fear of clowns.
I know we’re not alone. There must be at least one person out there who is scared of Aunt Jemima or who cowers at the sight of cheerleaders. I want to make our friends feel better about what’s going on with their daughter. So boys and girls…what’s your irrational fear?