I’m not afraid of much – and by that I mean keep-me-up-at-night afraid. Except clowns. They freak me out, as do hippies, public toilets and really smart monkeys. You know, the usual.

I’m not afraid of much – and by that I mean keep-me-up-at-night afraid. Except clowns. They freak me out, as do hippies, public toilets and really smart monkeys. You know, the usual.

These are phobias because they are irrational fears. I have no personal reason to be afraid of anything on my list, but I am. Do not put one in front of me because I’ll either run screaming from it or set it on fire. Although a burning hippie might sound funny, it’s not. It’s even scarier than a regular hippie. And if he’s holding a monkey ... I don’t even want to think about it.

I’m afraid of little else, other than a homicidal maniac running at me swinging a machete. However, that’s a rational kind of fear, and, unlike hippies and clowns, I never think about a homicidal maniac unless he’s right in front of me.

It happens more than you think.

I’m also afraid of my children. Is it a rational fear to be afraid of a kindergartner and preschooler? If you’re the parents of children that age, you know the answer – it’s yes.

“Hey, Dad,” the preschooler said to me, even though I was the only person in the room and she stood less than a foot away from me. She does this to her mother as well, sometimes also saying, “Hey, Dad.”

When I was little, before preschool and quite possibly moveable type existed, I was trapped at home with my mother while my sisters were at school and my father was working on the farm. Or, should I say, she was trapped with me.

“Hey, Mom,” I’d say, even though she was the only person in the room and I stood less than a foot away from her.

It usually took about five “hey Moms” before she’d snap.

“Jason,” she’d snap, her voice at Dad-did-something-stupid level. “I’m the only person here. You don’t have to say, ‘Mom.’ Just talk.”

I’m pretty sure I never got the hint.

“Hey, Dad,” the Girl said to me again.

Children want their parent’s attention for many reasons: 1) as a waiter, 2) as a sock inside-outer, 3) as a maid, 4) as a banker, 5) as a dental hygienist, 6) as a hairdresser, 7) as a make-up artist, 7) as a playmate, or 8) to show off.

I was afraid it was No. 1, or even worse, No. 5.

“Hey, Dad.”

Fear gripped me.

Oh, no. Maybe it was the dreaded No. 9, the one I thought she’d outgrown. The bottom-wiper.

“Hey, Dad.”

I looked down at her, pigtails framing her solemn little face.

“Yes, pumpkin,” I said, preparing myself for the worst. You know, I never had high blood pressure until I became a parent.

She smiled and said, “Nothing.”

I’d forgotten No. 10) parents are often used as a studio audience. Her grandmother taught her that joke – don’t think I’ll forget that anytime soon.

Then the Girl bounced into the other room. But I knew she’d be back.

Clowns, hippies, public toilets, really smart monkeys and anything my children do. Hmm. There’s a name for what I have, panophobia. My children make me afraid of everything.