Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Children and Monsters

Before I relate the following story, I need to make something clear. My children have never seen a zombie movie. I have no idea where they even became familiar with the concept of a zombie. Maybe it was “Scooby Doo.” Maybe it was pop culture in general and conversations at school. I know for sure that the younger boys heard about them from their older brother, but don’t really know his source. In any case, they know about them. They even love to play a gruesome 21st Century version of what my friends simply called “Tag” where, instead of being “it” you carry the zombie contagion.

Anyway, this past Sunday, my two younger boys (ages 7 and 10) made a life-changing discovery.

We were walking across town, having one of those silly debates that are pretty common around our house. Jonah was making the case that slow and deliberate is scarier than super fast. He and I had seen the trailer for the upcoming “World War Z,” so, pointing across a parking lot, I made my counter argument.

“Imagine there was a hoard of zombies over there. Would it be scarier if they were slow and lumbering with no real goal or purpose, or would it be scarier if they were superfast and chasing us particularly?”

Jonah agreed that I had a point. Caedon and Logan were listening in, so Logan asked his mom.

“Mom, are zombies fast or slow?”

“I don’t know, I suppose it depends on the movie.”

“Yeah, but what about the real ones?”

It was like a “bizarro world” version of the whole kid-learns-there-is-no-Santa story. They were pleased to learn that there were no real zombies. Actually, I should say that they were interested, but way too calm about it. I can’t begin to imagine how these kids were living, walking to and from school by themselves, getting on with life, in a world where they thought such monsters were a fact of life! I loved being able to share that truth with them and make their world a brighter place.

Surprisingly, I may be in a minority as far as parenting goes. I hear tell that some parents actively try to convince their kids that certain monsters are real to keep them in line. In some cultures a majority of parents—even Christians—go to great lengths to convince their children that an old man invades their home on a yearly basis, and that they had better behave if they want to be treated well by the creep.

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