We went on a family trip to the Halloween Spirit store this past weekend, and my toddler immediately took a liking to the scary pop-up monsters that operate with a press of a button on the wall or the floor. He couldn’t resist setting them off continuously, and the more sudden and louder the decorations were, the better. I left him with his equally Halloween-loving father, and went in search of the pieces that will make up my two year-old’s costume. It’s half DIY, half post-Halloween functional (Oshkosh overalls are involved and will hopefully last through Halloween.)
As I searched for a small plastic knife that my kid will carry around during trick-or-treat, I overheard a conversation that made me question my parenting beliefs.
“No blood, no gore, stay away from the scary,” a woman said. A second later, she turned down the aisle of bloody fake weapons I was standing in, and two, middle school-aged boys, followed her. “Mom, what’s so scary about a fake weapon,” one said. “You heard me. Stay away from the scary.”
“Okay mom, I’ll stay away from the plastic claw with blood painted on it,” boy no. 2 scoffed.
Conversation over. I heard nothing else as they continued past “the scary.” I vaguely remember my parents’ tactics at protecting me and my older brother from the scary; the only regular effort I can recall is when they’d ask us to cover our eyes or turn our heads when there was a super violent scene happening in a movie – like a scene that might lead to a nightmare later. I think though, as parents of young children in the late 80’s-mid 90’s, they understood that reality is much, much scarier than something produced with cameras and actors through their own experiences. For example, the two non-spayed rottweilers that lived tied up in a small pen just a couple of houses down and occasionally got loose – way scarier than Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees. Payin’ the bills, making sure we ate enough “good” food, praying we would be safe as we rode 4-wheelers around the hills in our backyard – all those things, actually scary in terms of parenting. They taught us that scary movies are fake, and that Halloween costumes are fun. And after years of watching Nightmare on Elm Street and dressing up as random monsters, witches, clowns, and a weird bloody version of the phantom of the opera, I’d like to think my brother and I turned out okay. We definitely did not stay away from the scary. Of course, neither of us were prone to having nightmares as kids, or even really feeling scared about anything at all (unless the rottweilers were chasing us.) So, maybe, these kiddos had a history of being cautious and scared, maybe having night terrors as small children or something, and mom was just being protective. Though, I can’t wrap my head around taking kids to a Halloween Spirit store if you want to protect them from the scary.
Of course, I’m busy collecting the pieces that will make up my two year-old’s Chucky costume, so maybe I have Halloween all wrong in this new parenting era. All I know is, Jay has definitely taken a liking to the scary – creepy jack-o-lanterns, the New York Yankees, the whole nine- and I can’t bring myself to keep him from it.
Hi, I’m Chucky… wanna play?