The Only Thing To Fear Is Fear Itself . . . And Ping Pong Balls!

“Squeaky Pie,” said Momanita. “We’re taking charge!”

Momanita lifted the cover on my rolly nest. “I like ‘Good morning, Squeaks’ or ‘Good afternoon, Squeaky Pie’ better than ‘We’re taking charge.’ ‘Taking charge’ is work.”

To other hootmans this sounded like squeals and whistles, but not to Momanita. She MOSTLY understood cockatiel speak. I MOSTLY understood hootman talk.

“We’re taking charge of our fears!”

“That doesn’t sound like a good way to start the day!”

Momanita rubbed my neck and held a Cheerio for me to munch. That was better.

“I’m afraid of docking the pontoon boat during strong winds,” Momanita explained. “I’m afraid that I’ll hit the pier.”


I pretend I’m Long John Silver’s macaw when I ride on the pontoon with Momanita.

I climbed on Momanita’s finger. She slid open my writing nest door and I scooted in. Last week I rode on the pontoon boat in my writing nest. She explained about pirates and parrots. I pretended I was a macaw riding on Long John Silver’s shoulder. 


Ping pong balls chase me around!

“And you’re afraid of ping pong balls. You have a fear like I do.”

“Ping pong balls chase me around and make ‘ka-thump, ka-thump, boing’ sounds! The pontoon boat doesn’t chase you around!”

Momanita carried me to her writing desk.

“I’ll research how we should face our fears.”

“I think you should research how we should avoid them!”


Momanita tapped on her keyboard.

“Listen, Squeaks, it says here that we shouldn’t try to be perfect. That keeps us from new experiences. We should accept there are some things we won’t be able to do. Like I’ll never be brave enough to fly an airplane.”

“Perfect? I can’t FLY and I’m a cockatiel! But I’m perfect every other way. Why would YOU need to fly? Walk like me!

“It also says thinking about your fear in a funny way helps face them. I’ll imagine the pontoon is a fish that’s swimming toward the pier. Fish don’t bump into piers. You think about ping pong balls with smiley faces.”

Smiley faced ping pong balls are scarier!

“I don’t want to think about ping pong balls with smiley faces. Clowns have smiley faces. Remember the movie ‘It’? Smiling ping pong balls are SCARIER!”

I scaled the writing nest to make my point!

“This will settle you down, Squeaks. I’m reading we should think about the fears we’ve overcome. Then we’ll be braver,” said Momanita. “I was afraid of getting lost and faced that. You’re so brave when you climb on the bridges.”


Crossing a bridge isn’t as scary as it looks!

“You follow Google maps to the pet shop. It’s a half mile away as the cockatiel flies (at least according to the ones who can.) The bridge is like my perch so it’s not too scary, just new.”


“You’re brave when Mike plays “bad hand/good hand” with you. I’m brave when I dock the boat in calm weather.

Momanita scratched my belly. 

“Bad hand/good hand is worth the battle!

“I battle Mike’s ‘bad hand’ because it taps my tail! Then the ‘good hand’ rubs my neck. It’s worth the battle.There’s NO reason to face bouncing ping pong balls. I have wings, not arms. I can’t play ping pong! I’m brave for a reason.”

I’m not sure she got what I meant because Momanita MOSTLY understood cockatiel speak and I MOSTLY understood hootman talk.


Momanita faces her fear and practices docking the pontoon. She hardly ever rams the pier any more!

“Even though it’s scary to battle the wind and dock the boat, it’ll be worth it. Then I can take it out anytime I want.”

“I’ll pretend to be Long John Silver’s macaw when you practice, but I’m glad to really be Momanita’s cockatiel.”

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