Just before Halloween, Blondie was “in the zone”, pretending to be a witch and threatening to turn me into various animals. You know, the usual stuff. At some point she decided I was a ghost, so I made a “wooo” noise at her. This was the least scary ghost noise anyone has ever heard, but my actions caused a bloodcurdling scream, and she ran out of the room. I found her at the bottom of the stairs in shock and had to promise never to do such a horrible thing ever again.
Fear’s a funny thing in children isn’t it? Just like adults, they get a bit of a kick out of the excitement of it, but only up to a point, and sometimes it’s the silliest things that really get to them. In the past I’ve found myself laughing out loud at the fact Blondie was petrified of the puppets of The Furchester Hotel on CBeebies, due to their “googly eyes”. It’s one thing to be frustrated that she’s probably missing out on a good show (when have Jim Henson’s crew ever let us down?), but being unable to avoid laughing out loud at her fright isn’t going to help.
The problem is, it’s hard for adults sometimes to get into the mindset of a child, and to think back to when their own imaginations were so vivid (without the aid of drugs anyway). I recall being scared of some very silly things that Blondie and Red would probably be completely fine with. I can remember sitting in a supermarket trolley and being frozen with fear at the Quaker Oats man. Mr Soft from the Softmints advert – I loved that but was somehow scared at the same time. The Jolly Fisherman that thinks Skegness is so bracing… If anyone ever dressed up as him at a Halloween party, I would potentially soil myself. Thankfully nobody ever would, because that’s a bloody stupid idea. Mind you, they might after reading this.
How much fear in children is hereditary and how much do we instil in them? For instance, Blondie is terrified of spiders, is that a natural thing or has it been caused by Mummy Cool panicking every time she sees one, no matter how many times I tell her it’s going to scare her daughter? It would be fascinating if we were able to pinpoint exactly why certain things scare children. There was a large talking cartoon tree in a local garden centre, which Blondie was so frightened of we had to ask if we could leave the building through another door because she daren’t pass it. The shop assistant said ours was one of many kids who hated it. At which point you’d think it might be best they got rid of it. To be fair, they eventually did, but it’s been replaced by a Santa, laid on a bed, whose belly rises and falls as he sleeps. Once more, Blondie is terrified, and I don’t blame her this time. There’s something very sinister about it. It looks as though he’s been drugged and might never wake up.
Of course, fear can be a good thing for your child to have as it can keep them safe. We’ve never really had to worry about Blondie doing anything dangerous like running out in front of cars, although this also causes problems. Only the other day, she was petrified of me crossing the road because a tractor was coming towards me… at the speed of a tortoise. Whereas Red… If Red could, she would stand in the road and shout “COME ON, FAST AS YOU CAN, I’LL BE FINE!” at a moving vehicle. Her lack of fear of the unknown is the scariest thing I have to deal with at the moment.
Having said that, we may have found Red’s weakness. We went to a firework display the other week, which we have avoided for the last few years as Blondie didn’t like the noises. However, this time around, it was poor Red’s turn to be upset. While Mummy Cool looked after our sobbing toddler, Blondie went insane with delight at the flashes and bangs, laughing hysterically and bobbing around on my aching shoulders, even announcing that the fireworks sounded like her “trumps”. So at least that’s one fear down. Tempted to show her the Softmints advert on YouTube now…