Today we celebrated the birthday of my beautiful and smart niece, Nora. It was lovely to spend the day with my family and eat amazing cake from Gus's Goodies, but I DID NOT enjoy the moment when I was attacked by Nora's new sloth stuffed animal that she recently got at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh. They have a sloth there that I was tricked into viewing the last time we visited. You may be asking the completely reasonable question: Why does a bird zoo need a sloth exhibit? And I would answer you: I HAVE NO IDEA! Completely unnecessary if you ask me (which no one at the Aviary did.)
Back to the stuffed animal. I had to get on my sloth soapbox.
"Why are people always bombarding me with images and videos of sloths? Lots of people are afraid of spiders, but no one is trying to smother those people with spider stuffed animals or posting spider pictures on their Facebook walls!"
(If you don't know me, and have no idea what I'm talking about in regards to sloths, perhaps you should backtrack and read this post I wrote several years ago.)
My mom tried to explain that perhaps it's so uncommon to fear sloths that people think it's funny.
Well, funny it is not, as my AP Literature class came to realize last year on April Fool's Day. They printed off hundreds (no exaggeration here) sloth pictures and placed them all over my classroom. Everywhere. Inside books, on calendar pages, even a sloth head perfectly sized to cover my daughter, Sophie's head in a frame sitting on my desk.
They were so eager to see my reaction when I walked in the room. I think they thought I would shriek and then have a good laugh with them. I did shriek, but it was followed by an immediate burst of tears and some hyperventilation (none of which was feigned. I'm telling you--I'm truly, truly frightened by these things!)
My students immediately began taking the pictures down in a flurry and apologizing profusely.
I forgave them, of course, but I hope they learned this lesson: If someone has a fear, she doesn't want to "see this funny meme" or "watch this super cute video" featuring the thing she is afraid of. She will not find it amusing when she logs into her social media accounts to find that you have tagged her in pictures of said thing, nor does she wish to be updated every time this thing becomes a character in a new movie (unless you are trying to stop her from seeing it.) The answer will always be NO.