Monster Musings

I’ve learned that if a kid doesn’t know something exists, he doesn’t want it. That was certainly true in the case of candy, french fries, ice cream, and toy guns. I realize I cannot protect my son from every awful thing, but I can try to delay his exposure to things he is not yet ready for. I think some might call me overprotective. But if you heard the things he says, and what he’s afraid of….

Lucas currently is thinking a lot about monsters and bullies and Star Wars lately. Now, I’m very fond of Star Wars (at least, I’m fond of the three original films), but Lucas sees all the promotional stuff about Star Wars 3 (which is pretty terrible, after all, the hero becomes the villain) and pictures of Darth Vader everywhere. Lucas sees toys and cereals and all kinds of stuff with Vader on it, and has developed a morbid fascination with him. I’ve explained to Lucas that he cannot watch Star Wars or have Darth Vader toys/costumes, that it is something for bigger boys and girls, because there are very scary parts and Darth Vader is a bad guy. Now Lucas asks me for a nice Darth Vader toy—one that is smiling and happy. The marketing people have done their job perfectly—he somehow KNOWS that kids should have these things!

This is all from the boy who is too afraid to watch PBS kids shows, like Sesame Street because of the monsters, or the Wiggles, or even Barney sometimes. We’ve pretty much had to cut out ALL TV viewing, even shows that I used to let him watch occasionally, such as Clifford the Big Red Dog and Boohbahs. My advice to others, even though—believe me—I know how very impractical it is: No TV. Maybe those Waldorf people were right all the while. And even though we’ve been pretty damned careful with his TV exposure, never allowing him to see grown up shows or movies, it seems we’ve still let him see too much, given his current fears and anxiety and aversion to TV and movies.

Or, perhaps it’s a function of his age. At 1 or 2 years old, Lucas didn’t understand plot, didn’t recognize it when characters were being mean to each other, didn’t have a concept of bad guys or empathize with the good guys. At 3, however, he does. He doesn’t even like to see good characters frowning or expressing negative emotions.

The bully idea, unfortunately, was introduced on one page of a story book we have. There’s a picture of a bigger boy shaking a little boy (with little squiggly lines to represent the shaking), and the text is something about … “if I had an octopus for a pet, the bullies would never pick on me or my friends.” (The book is a funny story all about how cool it would be if I had an octopus for a pet.) Now Lucas brings up bullies every couple of days. He wants to know if they’re real, if they pick on little kids, and whether they will be nice if we are nice to them. He’s actually WORRIED about bullies! I tell him that mommy and daddy and teachers will protect him from bullies, and that we don’t know any bullies at all, and that if he’s every made to feel uncomfortable or scared by another person, he should tell a grown up.

I sense we’re in the midst of a significant cognitive and emotional change.

6 Responses to “Monster Musings”

  • foseelovechild
    September 6, 2005 at 4:10 pm

    wow that’s so scary.


  • dakini_grl
    September 6, 2005 at 4:37 pm

    Incredible stuff. It makes me remember how the things I saw and the stories that were read to me impacted me. And me, I was plunked in front of the TV a lot (thank goodness for Sesame Street, but I still wonder). I wonder how my own parents answered those questions, too.


  • mrplanet4
    September 6, 2005 at 6:26 pm

    I was horrified of the Sesame Street monsters when I was 3. I actually have a very clear memory of a terrifying nightmare I had while we lived in a house in Venice, CA. I was in my crib and hollering like crazy because all the Seasame Street monsters were pouring out of my closet. We moved from that house soon after my sisters were born (probably around the time I was four or five). I was also freaked out by Oompa Loompas when I saw them on TV (same house). But I’m still freaked out by Oompa Loompas.

    Come to think of it, I have a lot of memories from that house. Memories from age five and below. Damn, I gotta watch what I say around that kid…


  • sarabellae
    September 6, 2005 at 7:00 pm

    I think a major difference between Lucas’s childhood and our own childhoods is that marketing and product licensing wasn’t so all-pervasive. Yeah, we had sugary cereals advertised by cartoony, kid-friendly characters. But you couldn’t get Sesame Street EVERYTHING when we were kids. (I use Sesame Street because it was the major kid program.) Now you can get any item a kid might need/want with a licensed TV character (sometimes a book character) on it. They have Dora the Explorer Candy Land games, for Christ’s sake.

    But Dora’s cool with me. What bothers me are the Shrek and the Bruce (shark with big teeth from Finding Nemo) and Darth Vader and Incredible Hulk images that kids can’t avoid, even if they and their parents want to. I mean, one major brand of pull-ups (disposable training pants for toddlers) has a mean-looking Incredible Hulk on them.


  • flonkbob
    September 7, 2005 at 4:19 pm

    I was trying to remember what scared me when I was young (aside from the occasional tyrannasaur) because I don’t remember ever being scared of TV. Well, duh. When I was Lucas’ age our TV was black and white, and about the size of my laptop screen. Too clearly unreal to worry about.

    Bullies, now. Them I feared. I knew bullies from the first time I ventured outside to play with the neighbor kids. I was bullied by everyone, including my father. And step-father. Bullies are not nice for little kids to deal with…but he’s going to have to eventually. I think the best thing you can do is what you did…let him know he can, and should, tell when someone bullies. There’s no reason on the gods green earth to let some little shit who’s parents have the skills of a slug to terrorize your boy. Ever.


  • andrewred
    September 8, 2005 at 1:12 am

    I am very much enjoying your posts.


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    Thanks for visiting! I’m Sara, editor and writer, wife to Ian, and mother of two precious boys. I am living each day to the fullest and with as much grace, creativity, and patience as I can muster. This is where I write about living, loving, and engaging fully in family life and the world around me. I let my hair down here. I learn new skills here. I strive to be a better human being here. And I tell the truth.

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