When Francis was three years old, his teacher in pre-school told the story about how her dog had been sprayed by a skunk and they had to give it a bath in tomato juice. Francis thought this was the worst thing ever because he HATED tomato juice.
With both a severe vision impairment (legally blind) and obsessive compulsive disorder, Francis began to worry about getting sprayed by a skunk. Obviously, taking a bath in tomato juice would be the most horrible thing ever. He refused to go outside to play in our backyard because he was so afraid he would step on a skunk which he couldn’t see. We put up a chicken wire fence to keep the skunks out. (Up until this point, we had never seen a skunk in our yard, but Francis was sure there was a skunk out there just waiting to rush up to him to spray him!) He was still leery about going out and had a few more questions.
“What happens if the skunk jumps over the fence?” he asked, and we reassured him that skunks don’t jump that high. (I don’t know if this is a fact, but it served the purpose of reassuring him a skunk would jump.)
“What happens if a skunk digs under the fence” he asked, and again we reassured him that skunks don’t dig under fences. (?) It would have to be one motivated skunk to go through all of that work just to spray Francis!
His next question sealed his fate. “What happens if the skunk sprays me THROUGH THE HOLES IN THE FENCE?” I had no answer except to say that that was absurd, which would not do anything to allay his fears! I gave up. He didn’t go outside to play for the rest of the summer!