When I was seven I was afraid of vampires. I’d read a children’s version of Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’; I’d picked it up from the library and read it in an afternoon. I thought it was a really cool story; until the lights went out. At night I was terrified. I remember wanting to hang garlic in the window and carry around a bottle of holy water, just in case. In the years since, vampires have become all the rage. Movies/books like Twilight and the series True Blood have put vampires at the top of the cool heap. More than half of the women in the world want to have Edward Cullen’s little vampire babies. So I guess I shouldn’t have been so afraid. If I had been bitten by a vampire, not only would I now be regarded as incredibly cool, I’d also have a good explanation for my complexion.
As an adult my day-to-day fears have shifted from the fantastic (vampires, zombies, aliens, etc) to the mundane (transmission problems, locking myself out of the house, static electricity, etc). So, being so far removed from that world where zombies might rampage into my room and eat my brother’s brain, it’s been a challenge dealing with Ryan’s transition into that very world. For Ryan, lately, it’s been ogres.
Shrek is an ogre.
So is this guy.
Ryan learned about ogres from a rather-scary-for-a-kids’-movie DVD preview and ogres, according to Ryan, are out to get him. They’re going to come into his room, and they’re going to scare him. Where are the Ogres? “Out there” says Ryan. I haven’t figured out where “there” is, but believe me wherever “there” is, out “there”, there be Ogres.
Trying to reason with a four year old is no easy task. The lines between reality and fiction are so blurry in the little four year old brain. You have to be careful with your words. You have to find a way to convince them that not only are there no ogres in the house, but also that there are no ogres. And that’s the tricky part. It’s incredibly easy to slip when debating a four year old.
Me: “There are no Ogres in the house”
Ryan: “But I saw one on TV.”
Me: “I know you saw one on TV but some things that we see on TV aren’t real, and that Ogre was just pretend.”
Ryan: “But I saw him!”
Me: “There’s no such thing as Ogres.”
Ryan: “Ogres are mean and they want to scare me!”
Me: “Well I think that not all Ogres are mean, some Ogres are probably nice, and…look there’s no such thing as ogres!”
And, it’s difficult to be the calm, reassuring parent at 2am when you’re having to explain ogres to a hyperventilating four year old. My first reaction at 2am is to say something along the lines of.
“Ogres only come and scare little boys who don’t go to sleep like they’re supposed to.”
Fortunately I don’t give in to that incredibly strong temptation.
As our kids grow I’m sure we’ll deal with all sorts of fears; some very real, some very hilarious.
What were you scared of as a kid?