I have two major phobias. Balloons and bugs.
My poor children were deprived of birthday balloons and while they did do the usual childhood thing of finding and collecting bugs in peanut butter jars, their ‘catches of the day’ were always admired by me (because I am a good parent) from a kilometre away.
My youngest child, Thomas, is profoundly autistic. Anyone who knows anything about autism will surely know that they are extremely literal.
After a really long and busy day, I was in the kitchen organizing dinner (I was probably on the phone ordering take-out, not cooking..remember because it was one of those days.) Thomas came through to me in the kitchen, bouncing his little body (he was 12 but tiny) and at the top of his voice, repeatedly saying “Praying mantis on the door! Praying mantis on the door!”
I peed in my pants a little.
Envisioning a creepy green long stick like insect spread eagled on MY screen door, and calmly (well as calmly as a bug-phobe would) told him to get the bug spray and “Get rid of it NOW! Kill it! Kill It!”
Thomas bounced off armed with a keg sized can of bug spray and I could hear him spraying the bejeezuz out of the bug on my screen door. He came back screaming “The praying man still on the door!!”
I came back with “For the love of God get the frickin thing off and kill it!! K I L L it!! My voice had turned into someone elses, a baritone!
By blood pressure was through the roof, my heart was in failure, my knickers were wet and the sweat was dripping off me (it’s Australia and 30 degrees Celsius.)
He went. He sprayed the door again. And I mean he SPRAYED a long time!! All the time flapping his arms and jumping up and down and repeating that there was a “praying man on the door!”
After a few minutes, I hear a very loud man’s voice yelling through the screen door: “Julie! [insert cough & splutter] For the love of GOD! It’s ME, Father Bryan! [insert cough & splutter] Take the feckin spray off him!!!
Yes, our ‘Praying MANtis’ was in fact our parish priest. He was OK though … after we rinsed his eyes out.