On Wednesdays and Thursdays, a good part of my parenting energy goes toward defending my twin toddler girls against the perceived threat of the garbage trucks that patrol our neighborhood. I'm hoping the dread fear that leaves them sobbing and clutching at my legs and gibbering about "jurbage chucks" for much of those two days is just a phase that will soon subside.
In the meantime, part of my strategy to deal with their fear is to give them opportunities whenever possible to watch the terrifying machines, from a safe distance, while I comfort them and talk about what they're seeing: "Now the garbage truck lifts up the dumpster...now the garbage goes in the truck. Yay! Garbage truck is our frieeeeend." That kind of thing.
One thing I try to do as part of this de-sensitization regimen is to get the trash collectors to wave at the girls, so the girls will understand that we like the garbage truck and the people who live inside of it.
I remember the first time one of the guys on the yard waste collection crew, who ride on the back of the truck, old-school style, and dump the containers by hand, waved at us as we stood on our front steps. I was chirping away, trying to get the kids excited about the super-fun friendly truck, and flapping my hands like a cheerleader hoping to get the attention of the hunky quarterback during the big game.