Beware of ginormous rodents

It isn’t uncommon to fear rodents. There’s even a term for it — suriphobia.

My 2-year-old son’s fear of furry creatures has a twist to it, though. See, it’s not a typical mouse or rat that sends shivers down his spine. No, he screams for mommy whenever there’s a person in a rodent costume.

Of course, there’s a term for this, too — masklophobia.

Monday’s trip to Chuck E. Cheese’s ignited his latest rodent costume-inducing meltdown. Luke lasted all of about three minutes in the amusement center before Kara took him home and left Lexi and me to deposit about 50 tokens in the arcade hit Winter X Games: SnoCross.

Kara originally planned to take the kids to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, but with snow falling steadily in Central Indiana, she scrapped that idea. She checked on the possibility of the Muncie Children’s Museum instead, but with the museum closed on Mondays, she sought yet another family-fun alternative.

Both of our kids shouted, “Yeah” when Kara suggested Chuck E. Cheese’s.

Luke practically begged us to take him there in recent months. I swear every time we drove by the building, he said, “Chuck EEEE. Cheeeeese’s!”

He clearly forgot that a big furry rodent was inside those walls.

It took Luke all of about 30 seconds after we walked into the entrance Monday to spot the ginormous electronic Chuck E. Cheese doll on stage. Luke shook violently as if overtaken by a winter chill.

Kara scooped him up and held him tightly with his back to the doll, but unfortunately Luke spotted an employee dressed in the mouse outfit on the opposite side of the amusement center. He burst into tears and resumed shaking as he buried his head in his mom’s shoulder.

The last time I saw Luke that scared was in October when he encountered an even more famous rodent at Walt Disney World.

If Kara or I had our smart phones on video when he met Mickey Mouse, we’d have an “America’s Funniest Home Videos” classic.

When we walked into a room in the Town Square Theatre, Mickey was to our right staring into a mirror. He then leaped out of his seat and rushed over toward our kids. Kara was holding Luke, and he shrieked and clung onto his mom with a death grip. He screamed so loudly that whoever was inside the Mickey costume jumped back about a foot and probably had to change his costume after we left.

Clearly, Luke’s fear of big rodents hasn’t subsided any in the four months since Disney World.

Call it suriphobia or masklophobia or whateverphobia, but rest assured, I’ll be teasing him about it for years to come. Anyone know where I can buy a mouse costume?

Thomas St. Myer writes a weekly parenting column published by The Commercial Review on Wednesdays. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter @tstmyer.

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