Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Last year on Halloween, Penny (15 months) was not happy about... something.  I can't remember.

I love me some costumes and some candy, but Halloween has always been my least favorite decoration holiday, even before I had young kids.  Every year I can't wait for everyone to take down their fake spiderwebs and ghosts to make room for cornucopias and then Christmas lights. 

Our neighbors down the street have adorned their front trees with hanging skull faces wearing black robes. Which is totally their prorogative.  On a walk, our two-year-old noticed them and asked, "who's that?"

Dan handled it perfectly and told her they are just some silly guys.  

Dan and I believe that fear in little kids can be prompted or escalated by the power of suggestion. If no one ever tells her that she's supposed to be scared of plastic skull faces, will she be scared of them?  I'm sure there's scientific data on the topic of toddler psychology and irrational fear, but I don't care enough to research it.  I just know that I don't want anyone to introduce my little girl to the concept of being afraid, in the same way that mothers don't want anyone showing porn to their adolescent boys. 

It's something I've been thinking about a lot.  Sometimes adults default to startling or scaring little kids as a way to interact with them -- as though kids being shocked is as cute as kids being overjoyed.  This bugs me, a lot.  The "I'm gonna get you!" game tows a fine line for me, with the threat of smiles and tickle fingers being on one side, and the threat of roaring in a child's face then pretending to eat their limbs on the other.  It depends on the kid and the age I suppose.

One thing we are trying really hard not to do is suggest that Penny should or shouldn't be scared of something that wouldn't have struck her as frightening to begin with.  We don't even use the word "scary" in our house. Does that make sense?  We are also totally OK if she is genuinely, on her own terms, afraid of something.

This Friday should be interesting.  Thoughts?

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