SCARE THE KIDS? WHY NOT?
I am the mother of five children. They range in age from twenty-five down to seven.
When my twenty-two year old son came home to visit recently, he made the observation that I don’t frighten my little ones enough.
I was horrified. “What?” I stammered. “What on earth do you mean?”
He went on to tell me that his memories of childhood were strung together with nightmares and phobias constructed by me. I argued that he must have been mistaken but no, he categorically listed them for me.
- If you don’t go to sleep, sandman will tip sand into your eyes.
- If you put your hand out the car window, a truck will go by and rip it off.
- Walk down the road in the opposite direction to the traffic so baddies don’t swoop you up as they drive past.
- Don’t swallow chewing gum or you’ll die.
- Don’t pick your nose or your head will cave in.
- If you swear the police will arrest you. (I’d be serving three consecutive life sentences if this was true!)
He even reminded me of how terrified his little brother Harry was of those dress-up characters in shopping centres. There was a man in a chicken suit at Franklins one day and little Harry was beside himself with fear.
From that day on, whenever Harry was naughty or disobedient he was told that the Chicken-Man would get him. I question this story and think that perhaps the older boys were more guilty of that one that me.
I also question the allegation that I once sat the older boys down to watch Mommie Dearest to show them what a really scary mother looked like, so that they would appreciate me more. Did I really do that?
But the truth is parents are Santa Claus and the Bogeyman at the same time. Is that such a bad thing?
These days we are probably more politically correct and don’t scream at the kids bouncing and shouting in the back seat, ‘If you don’t stop that I’ll drive straight to Freddie Kruger’s place and drop you off!’ but we all do indulge in a little control therapy from time to time by falling back on the oldest and strongest emotion – fear.
It’s not completely our fault. Society has taught us that fear is a mighty tool in the arsenal of ‘control’. Just look at North Korea. Hell is the capital city of Fear.
These days we like to think of ourselves as more mindful with our child-rearing but even our everyday language is laden with fear messages. Of course, today we live in a scarier world….or do we?
Are there really more people being snatched off the side of the road? How many little hands have actually been ripped off by passing trucks? What are the hospital statistics on chewing- gum-gut syndrome?
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