It started as a child, on the beach where friends and siblings would jump on those round balls of seaweed, all over the place on the Queen Charlotte Islands, where we spent a few years growing up. They loved to pop them, but even more exciting was torturing me with the balls, picking up that slimy piece of seaweed and throwing it at me. The thought of it touching me, or me touching it immediately causing me to well up in tears – and to this day makes me shudder, at thirty years old.
Later, in my early twenties I went camping with a then-boyfriend and a group of friends. At this campground there was a lake and I don’t remember whether they wanted to go fishing, or what but everywhere you looked in this lake were those plants, lurking upwards from the bottom. Long, reeds of my worst fear all around – and my fear was discovered and the guy and friends rocked the boat so hard, thinking that the irrational fear of seaweed was hilarious.
Me? I was near tears, or in tears, the details are fuzzy since they’ve got the overtone of mortal fear sprinkled in there.
Seaweed fear has stolen a pair of sunglasses from me, my favorite pair, this year on a trip to Blue Ridge recreation area, where the kids enjoy running and jumping off of the docks into the water. The water is relatively clear, but that doesn’t stop me from getting heart palpitations when I jump in the one time to demonstrate a brave example. While the forgotten-on-my-head sunglasses sunk to the bottom, I raced back to the ladder to get on to the dock and back on to my comfort zone.
There are these ponds in our neighborhood, storm water ponds, with boardwalks. It’s a lovely walk and somewhere we walk across a few times a week, but the ponds… they’ve got weeds, and only three slats of wood stopping one of my kids from falling in. If you know me at all you know that I’m the farthest thing from a helicopter parent, but on that boardwalk when I’m alone with the kids – they’re holding my hand. I am not certain that I could get past it, jump in and save them.
This year at Dinosaur Provincial Park there are these great creeks behind the campsites on the left side when you’re coming into the park. These creeks are filled with clay mud, the kids adored playing in. They’re also very uneven so it goes from about twelve inches to four feet, in a step. Playing there this summer, the kids were wading in the shallow part, where they were covering themselves with mud when all of a sudden Violet (note: who can swim) stepped into the deep part that I noticed an adult walking through earlier and me, being the irrational quick to act person that I am, jumped before thinking.
Without thinking about the wet grass, the disgusting clay and the fact that I was going to be covered with mud, I threw myself the three feet between her and I grabbing on to her as she looked at me questioningly, asking “What you been doing!?” as she climbed out, obviously not drowning.
I guess there’s the answer to the question of being able to overcome the seaweed fear to save a child from my irrational overreactions – but don’t you dare come near me with those ‘sea onions’ or take me on a plant filled lake, ever. If you’re looking for me, I’ll be the one avoiding the beach on trips to Mexico.