Thursday, September 11, 2014

Zoe vs. Catapedaphobia

Catapedaphobia is not the fear of cat feet, which is what I first thought when I heard the word. But then who would be afraid of cat feet? They're so fluffy and cute.
Until you touch them and the cat swipes at you with her claws and you're bleeding.
So now I have a new fear.
But it's not catapedaphobia, which is the fear of jumping from high or low places. 
Zoe may or may not have catapedaphobia. In any case, it's the closest word I could find to describe Zoe's antipathy to bouncy castles.

Ablutophobia: fear of bathing.

There are a lot of unusual fears out there, and many of them get their own words. For instance, did you know somniphobia is the fear of sleep? Maybe that's another fear Zoe has. It would certainly explain a lot.
Ever hear of iatrophobia? That's the fear of going to the doctor (another one Zoe may have). Taphephobia is the fear of being buried alive. But who doesn't fear that? Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia is the fear of long words, which sounds like some pscychologist's cruel joke since people who suffer from it can hardly self identify.
But back to catapedaphobia. Over the past two weekends Zoe confronted her fear of bouncy castles and, eventually, conquered it. 
Let's start with two Saturdays ago when she went to her first kid's party, a boy's of course. It was at an indoor "play arena" where the revelers could enjoy several different bouncy castles. Some had slides, some had climbing, some had both, and some were just for bouncing.
Zoe did not want to slide or climb or bounce. She wanted to go home.

The horror of watching children play,
or pedophobia.

Maybe it was the size of the structures themselves (megalophobia). Or perhaps the bright colors (chromatophobia).
Whatever it was, I had to hold her for the whole two hours of the party. On the positive side, this alleviated my own social phobia. I was too busy with Zoe, alternating between psyching her up and then comforting her when her socked foot touched the entrance to the inflatable structure and she jumped back into my arms, to worry about small talk. She was a 36-pound conversation piece. "I guess she's afraid." "She just doesn't want to." "Whaddaya say, Zoe?" "Look, the birthday boy is doing it." "Kids, huh?" 
Zoe has a history of taking her time warming up to things. She was that way at an amusement park we visited earlier in the summer.
In Phase One she'd say she wanted to go on a ride but then she'd stand and stare at it in silence for several minutes, her hands pressed to her cheeks.
Was it tachophobia, the fear of speed?
Or kinetophobia, the fear of movement?
How about neophobia, the fear of new things?
Phase Two was her getting on a ride, then crying to get off before it started, then standing outside again, watchful, waiting for an explosion perhaps. 
Phrase Three: the carousel. She went on. She stayed on. Progress.
Considering her obsession with coin-operated horses (the gateway drug of rides), I knew the horse part wouldn't be the problem. (She is not equinophobic, thank god, because I was afraid of that.)
But in light of the fact that I'd never been allowed to put money in the ride (mechanophobia?), I wasn't so sure she'd be okay when the carousel started moving. However, my fears proved groundless and she ended up loving the carousel.
Therefore, at the bouncy place I figured she just needed time to warm up. I was right. Apparently that time was seven days.

In this picture, how many things are there
to fear? a) 4 b) 5 c) a + b?

Last weekend we went to a block party, and they also had a bouncy castle. As I had the week before, I stood at the entrance to the anxiety-inducing inflatable holding a serious Zoe, who played with her hair, a considering frown on her face.
Again we went through the false starts. She'd say she wanted to go in, I'd place her on the castle's foyer area, and then she'd scuttle back into my arms. Foyerphobia?*
I'm not sure what finally decided her. Maybe it was that while she was busy ruminating, her friend, who is a year younger, had bounced all over like a curly-haired pinball and gone down the slide umpteen times and she wanted to join her.
So Zoe goes in and I follow her around on the outside until, lo and behold, a smile. "Mommy, I like it!" Miracle!
This bouncy castle had punching bags erupting from the rubber floor like stalagmites in a clown cave, and the bigger kids were knocking into them. At one point Zoe got hit with one and went down. A moment later she bounced up, saying, "I'm okay." 
When she finally came out she told me, "I loved it."
So when trying something new, Zoe's action plan is: 1) abject terror and resistance lasting about a week, then 2) grim acceptance, followed by 3) like quickly followed by 4) love then 5) obsession as evidenced by nonstop talking about it forever plus infinity.
Bouncy castles do not foster equanimity. 
I was glad she'd gotten over her fear and enjoyed herself. And I was glad none of the kids had eaten before bouncing, because if they got sick, that would've triggered my emetophobia, fear of vomit. Can you picture it? Bouncing vomit. Vomit getting on socks. Vomit in hair.
If you feel queasy, maybe you're emetophobic too. You should probably seek help.
Zoe: 60; Universe: 0
*Okay, I made this one up. But I can't be the only one who hates that moment when you first enter someone's house for a party and everyone looks at you.**
**Scopophobia: fear of being stared at. 


  1. I appreciate the amount of googling that must have gone into this post - I can't imagine you knew all of these phobias off the top of your head. My daughter knew the hippo- one, which makes sense for a high school junior. Glad Zoe conquered her fear. You couldn't get me in a bounce house unless you threw me in kicking and screaming!

  2. Thanks! It did take me a while but I do love this kind of stuff!. I'm impressed your daughter knew that word. Yes, part of Z's fear was she wanted me to go in with her. I was like, not a chance, kid. First of all I don't do anything where I can't wear my glasses!