I've written before about how I try to present topics very openly to the girls. Certainly I hope to instill particular values, but I also want to encourage them to develop their own opinions.
This approach has led me to champion some pretty creepy-crawly critters.
If you were to overhear some of the conversations in our house over the past six or eight months, you might think I was a huge fan of mice and rats, for example.
Upon hearing a friend talking about how she "hates" mice and rats, I spent weeks upon weeks telling the girls, "We haven't met all the mice and rats in the world. I'm sure some of them are very nice."
And at the zoo last month, I even laboriously extolled the virtues of some gigantic cockroaches. There were a couple of grown women squealing at how "gross" they were. I hope my, "Wow! How cool! Look how many there are in there!" drowned out some of the gagging noises the women were making.
One species I haven't moved to defend, though, is clowns.
I don't remember having thoughts about clowns one way or the other as a child. And it was only as an adult that I realized some people find them creepy.
I think the only exposure the girls have had to clowns is in a Curious George book, when he goes to a Halloween party. They never remarked one way or the other, only to acknowledge the different costumes.
Enter the new bouncy house into town.
We took the girls as a special treat on their half birthday, on July 5. They were having an absolute blast...until they caught sight of a clown making balloon animals in the corner.
Both girls clung tightly to me. Baby A actually asked me to pick her up. They refused to go down the slide that emptied into the clown's general vicinity. And they were exceptionally speedy in crawling into the entrance to the obstacle course not far from the clown's table.
I acknowledged the girls' feelings. "It's OK to be scared," I told them, "but it's OK. It's only a person who has on a silly outfit and has paint on his face. Some people think it's funny."
But that's it.
My kids don't like clowns, and I'm OK with that.
They may one day be asking for a pet rat or an aquarium full of giant cockroaches for their birthday...we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. But on the upside, I'm thinking we won't have to contend with a clown rental fee for their birthday parties.