Sienna And The Frightening Fly

Twas the first day of May and Elaine and my mother sat casually feeding Sienna eggplant rollatini in a pizzeria down the block form our apartment when out of nowhere the scariest creature on the planet zoomed by Sienna’s head. No I’m not talking about a rat or a killer bee or a king cobra. No great white shark decided to make a side trip from the ocean to have a slice of pizza. I’m not even talking about that insidious varmint known as Elmo. I’m referring to an ordinary housefly.

It’s amazing what strikes fear into the hearts of toddlers. According to eyewitnesses (Elaine and my mom), Sienna screeched and jumped into Elaine’s lap, clinging to her neck as if it were the last life preserver on the sinking Titanic, and buried her face on her mommy’s shoulder when the fly first buzzed her head.

“It’s just a fly, honey,” Mommy allegedly said. “It’s gone. Nothing to worry about. No more fly.”

Reports say it took some time for Sienna to calm down and release her mommy from that death grip.

“No fly,” said Sienna. “No fly.”

“That’s right,” echoed Elaine. “No fly.”

Then that monstrous beast streaked across the room and Sienna was back in Mommy’s lap, tears streaming, knuckles turning so white as she gripped Elaine that Mommy began to turn blue. Time and again a terrified Sienna would calm down and then hurl herself at Elaine when that fly flew overhead. Even when they reached the safety of the apartment Sienna would occasionally ask to be held while shaking her little head and assuring herself: “No fly. No fly.” This was something I witnessed when I got home and Elaine made me aware of the evening’s events making sure to always spell F-L-Y so as not to upset out daughter. I watched as Sienna peeked her head around the corner, looked at my wife for comfort, asked to be picked up and said, “No fly. No fly.”

When night-night came, Sienna seemed okay. It was Elaine’s night to put her down and our daughter laughed and played under fluorescent blue stars until my wife told her to climb into bed. She fell asleep, but apparently that devilish fly haunted Sienna’s dreams. As we sat on the couch listening over the baby monitor we heard our daughter whimper and then cry out as if a serial killer were after her in her sleep: “Help! Stop! Mommy! Daddy!”

Elaine went in first. She picked a drowsy Sienna up, held her to her chest, sat down in the rocking chair and rocked. But the little girl screamed and squirmed, screamed and squirmed. I went into the darkened bedroom and asked my little girl if she’d like to lie down on the floor with Mommy and Daddy.


I don’t know if she was awake or asleep when she answered, but it doesn’t matter. The three of us lay on the floor, Sienna between Elaine and myself. She sucked her thumb. She held her blanket. She fidgeted and fussed. Elaine and I ran our fingers through her hair and stole glances at each other. Finally I decided this was a night Sienna needed us, her parents, even more than ever. She needed to feel safe. We brought Sienna to our bedroom, placed her head on a pillow, shut off the light and got into bed. It was barely 11 pm so I had to take half a melatonin otherwise I would have lay there staring into the blackness.

I asked Sienna if she’d like me to sing “Rainbow Connection” which happens to be her current favorite song (I’m so proud!). She said yes and I dutifully complied, the words flowing over her in the darkness, lulling her to sleep. Little snores escaped her tiny nose. In her sleep she slipped across the pillow and landed with her face in my back. And I loved it. I loved being there for my daughter even if it meant having barely enough room to keep myself on the bed. I lay there feeling warm and important. I lay there feeling like vital father.

It wasn’t an easy night. Fitful sleep for all of us. Sienna periodically moaning, asking for help as that ghastly fly plagued her dreams, Elaine and I waking up at each whimper. According to Elaine, when she got up for work at 5 am, she had to leave a mewling and suffering little girl filling her with heartbreak. By the time Sienna and I awoke around 8 am, all was well with the world, both the actual fly and its nighttime apparition gone from our toddler’s mind. Elaine’s mom came over and she and Sienna had a grand time going for a walk and picking dandelions as Daddy tried to do some work – actually write a blog for the first time in forever as Elsa and Anna say in Frozen which we’ve now watched at least 10 times.

Sienna’s napping now and it’s peaceful. No bad dreams. No flies. The previous night is over but it left me with so many lessons and feelings.

One lesson is obvious: it’s way too early to introduce Sienna to Brundlefly.

The other lesson is that caring for my terrified little girl gave me sense of joy and love I haven’t felt in at least a month due to a depression relapse.

Who knew an ordinary fly could do so much?

What simple things have frightened your little ones so? How did comforting them make you feel?

7 thoughts on “Sienna And The Frightening Fly

  1. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    sherry amatenstein

    May 2, 2014 at 5:29pm

    So, so happy to see this lovely blog. I’ve missed your writing.
    How lucky Sienna is to have you for her dad.

  2. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    May 2, 2014 at 7:00pm

    With Theo, it was lions. He had the idea that lions were going to come get him at night. Nightmares galore. Someone told us a trick: we created a No Lions Allowed! sign and had Theo hang it on our front door. Obviously, with the sign in place, no lion would ever think of coming in. He never had a lion nightmare again.

    With Luke, it’s bees. He’s never been stung by a bee, but the sight of any kind of bee has him sprinting in the other direction. When he was smaller, he had recurring nightmares about the evil bees. Up went the No Bees Allowed! sign on his bedroom door. Problem solved. I just took the sign down a few weeks ago, after years of faithful and flawless service.

    • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

      Lorne Jaffe

      May 2, 2014 at 10:22pm

      That’s a great idea, Osc. We’ll see how tonight goes. If she’s still freaking out, we’ll try it tom. Thanks!

  3. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Cormac McCann

    May 2, 2014 at 8:49pm

    Hi Lorne,

    Great post, I have to go in once in a while to my lads, but neither of them are able to explain what frightened them. In the past the older one who’s now 4 would have came into us and got in to the bed beside me till he felt better. Now a days though he lies in his bed screaming for me till I get up and go into him in case he wakens his younger brother..I always feel a nice warm fuzzy feeling when I get him settled and with the knowledge that he needed me and he’s not doing his usual I’m a big boy and will do what I want show.

    • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

      Lorne Jaffe

      May 7, 2014 at 11:04am

      Thx so much Cormac! I agree…there’s something about that little kid needing you so much. Glad I only have the one. If she screams she’s just gonna awaken the cats and us 😉

  4. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    May 3, 2014 at 1:30pm

    First of all, YAY!!! You blogged!!!:)

    The fly… hmm, personally I’m not afraid of them, but I do find them repulsive…Yuck! When a fly enters our home, everything stops until that fly has been hunted down and obliterated!

    I am however terrified of every other bug I see. Unfortunately my father was not kind and comforting with my fears. He found my fears-rational or not, very annoying, irritating and saw them as a sign of weakness. He was abusive…very, very abusive.:(
    I share this because as a parent, we have to break these awful cycles with our own children. You and Elaine are showing Sienna so much love and tenderness…and your friends’ comments also show their love and understanding for their own little ones. I am so proud of you, Elaine and all your pals…and so to you guys, Oscar and everyone else, thank you for being kind, loving and understanding. Your kids are blessed!:)

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