So a few Christmases ago, Jason thought it would be "funny" to buy me a DVD copy of "Hill of Fire," the infamous Reading Rainbow episode that inadvertently triggered my lifelong phobia of volcanoes. He figured I — as a mostly reasonable, somewhat mature adult — would be able to watch it, laugh about it, maybe get a good blog post out of the experience, like the time I watched a terrible reenactment of Pompeii. Maybe it would even help!, he reasoned.
I never managed to write that good blog post because I never made it through the entire show. He put it on and I kept having to leave the room. It was just like I remembered, and for some reason the realization that my childhood memories weren't NEARLY as warped as I assumed made the whole thing worse. It wasn't funny. It was HORRIBLE, and Jason learned a valuable lesson about maaaaaaybe taking people's most irrational fears a bit more seriously, and that no, I really wasn't making things up or exaggerating the depth of my volcanic terror: That show fucked my shit up proper, dude.
Well, he learned that lesson for awhile, and then apparently forgot, because recently he went through our old DVDs and OH YOU KNOW WHAT WOULD BE FUNNY?
Oh yes, he did.
That man, my beloved husband, my one true confidante, my best friend in the entire world, called the three male heirs my own body produced for him into the living room and put "Hill of Fire" on for them. And me, because I was already sitting there, and now had to make a choice:
1) Flee the room in a flailing panic, and thus abandoning my children and simultaneously letting them know that what they were about to watch was terrifying and their father was a giant dickhead.
2) Stay and watch, and possibly provide some of the context/reassurance that my own seven-year-old self could have used, like "I SWEAR LEVAR BURTON IS ACTUALLY FAR ENOUGH AWAY TO NOT DIE" and "I PROMISE YOUR BACKYARD WILL NOT RANDOMLY COLLAPSE AND TURN INTO A FIERY PIT OF DESTRUCTION."
I went with option 3), which was to stay frozen in my chair in a silent full-body, muscle-spasming panic, glaring at Jason. And then attempting to calmly answer my children's questions, which were:
a) WHY IS HE STANDING ON THAT VOLCANO DOESN'T HE KNOW THAT'S SO DANGEROUS
b) WHY ISN'T HE RUNNING AWAY FROM THAT VOLCANO IT'S ERUPTING FOR CHRIST'S SAKE
c) IS LEVAR BURTON GOING TO DIE?
But I stayed. And I watched. I held (a somewhat alarmed, vaguely unsure) Ike on my lap and stroked him calmly, even as my skin crawled and twitched at the close-ups of the spewing lava and roiling magma. I watched the entire episode, including the book reading part about the Paricutin volcano in Mexico, which started as a small hole in a farmer's field and then went on to destroy the entire village as a full-fledged, honest-to-God, take-no-shit volcano.
(The book helpfully points out that the village was safely evacuated, including all the farm animals, except LIES — three people died from lightning strikes caused by the eruption, so like, there's something else you get to worry about now.)
(Behold! My best poker face and chillax-looking body language. Secretly, I am actually dying.)
Afterwards, the boys asked a few follow-up questions (are there volcanoes in Maryland, have we ever been to a place that has/had volcanoes, tell me again about the science of it all, etc.). They really liked the segment about a chill Hawaiian dude who makes pottery using volcanic ash and soil. Ezra asked once more about LeVar Burton's safety and Noah pragmatically told him not to worry, they watch Reading Rainbow at school all the time and LeVar is just fine in all the other episodes. (Thanks, Kickstarter!) Nobody had any nightmares about volcanoes that night or since, nor did anyone inherit my childhood OCD of checking our yard for possible volcano holes for weeks on end.
So they're fine. I'm fine. We're all just doing fine. I'm even a little bit proud of myself, and maybe a little slightly less phobic and/or thoroughly convinced that a volcano will be what kills me, in the end.
(But you don't have to take my word for it.)
(I AM NEVER WATCHING THAT AGAIN.)