Emma came home from school a few days ago with a prize from her teacher's treasure box. A wonder of dollar store items that will inevitably break in 5 minutes but oh-so-fun for the moment. She had a blowfish shaped puffer ball. You know the ones with the soft spikes on them that balloon out when squeezed? It was green (St Patty's Day and all) and cute and fairly innocuous. She proudly brought it out to show us while I was feeding Jack dinner. He was just about done and she and I talked about how she got the ball and she showed me what she could do with it. Leaving it on the corner of the table, opposite where Jack and I were, she left and went to go play with something else.
I noticed as I took Jack out of his high chair he was fairly upset about something. I assumed it was because I had not been paying attention to him and was talking to Emma. Or that he was not hungry anymore. When I tried to put him down on the floor he got even more agitated. He kept saying "I no touch it" and I just chalked it up to weird 2 yr old behavior. Normally when I put him down he walks down to the other end of the table to where Sophia is and bugs her for a while but that day he BOLTED around the island as far from the table as possible crying the entire time and ran into the family room corner to hide. He was still muttering, now at a high pitched whine, "I NO touch it". I asked him what he was talking about and raising a shaky hand he pointed at the kitchen table. Looking over there the only thing on it was the new ball. I asked him if he meant the "fishy ball" and he gave out a cry and ran back into the corner.
I giggled to myself a bit here, assuming he thought it was real or had the potential to harm him. I picked it up and brought it into the family room to show him. I took him by the hand and tried to get him to touch it, only to see that it was soft and harmless, just a ball. This, of course, backfired completely, resulting in Jack trying to climb my head and leaving tear marks along the way. He was completely hysterical over this toy, petrified out of his little toddler mind at the mere idea of touching it. I reminded him several times that it was just a ball and he yelled back to me "No touch it feeshy boh". After a minute or so I gave up and just decided that he was tired and next time he saw it wouldn't be so bad. Over the next few days Jack would refuse to go into certain rooms until asking "A feeshy boh in 'ere?" Once I had reassured him he would be fine. The site of it would send him careening out of control and down the stairs into my arms. Almost a week later he is still quite frightened by the "fishy ball" although it has somewhat lessened and there is not as much screaming but just a high pitched whimper and a tentative backing away from the ball.
I have never seen such a reaction to a toy before. We have hidden the dreaded ball for now but who knows what will happen if he finds it or one of the girls pulls it out one day to play with. How do you overcome the irrational fear of a soft ball without causing nightmares for the rest of the boys young life? I can imagine him talking to his wife 30 years from now, telling her stories about a crazy green blowfish that he had nightmares about for his entire childhood .....
So, the "feeshy boh" may have to be released back into the pond from which it came. I am sure there is another equally junky toy that will take its place not long from now!!!