NB: Thought I’d try drawing my own pictures instead of taking stuff from the Internet. Don’t know how long it will last, but here goes.
My 8yo step-daughter Ophelia is now completely terrified by werewolves. We were over at her friend’s place and they were watching Michael Jackson video clips (damn you Michael, stop messing with our children, even from beyond the grave). When Thriller came on, she was transfixed by Michael’s yellow eyes and ‘cat ears’. It was clear proof that werewolves existed.
That night (P is for parent. The irresponsible responses were probably me. The thoughtful ones were more likely my wife):
O: I’m not going upstairs alone. The werewolf will get me.
P: There’s no such thing. Go to bed.
(I am a caring step-parent)
O: I can’t. Walk me up.
P: No. Turn on the lights on the way up. You’ll be fine.
O: I can’t. If I reach into the room to turn on the lights, the werewolf will get me.
P: Monsters are scared of you. Just yell “Shoo monsters!” as you climb the stairs. I’ll watch you.
O: Shoo monsters.
O: Shoo Monsters!
If it were me, I’d be less than reassured that my mother could see me as I was devoured by monsters.
O: There’s something in the spare room.
P: Then don’t go in there.
O: Duh! I have to go past it to get to my room!
Of course. With a lot of shoo monstering she was in bed. I say don’t give in to fears like this. But when we came up to tuck her in, shortly afterwards, we quizzed her on the werewolf thing.
P: You know werewolves are made up, don’t you? You’re not worried by zombies.
(By this stage, I’m feeling your judgement. Stop it)
O: Zombies are silly.
(Hooray for Plants vs Zombies)
P: And werewolves?
O: Michael Jackson had those yellow cat eyes. I hate Michael Jackson. Why would he do that?
We explained about contact lenses and makeup. We agreed that Michael Jackson was an idiot.
P: You weren’t scared by the ogres or the spiders in Harry Potter, why are they different?
(Again, stop judging)
O: They were, like, sooo not real.
Seriously? She’s 8. She really says this. No more Winx Club for her. Another point: kudos to Michael, whose 80s werewolf effect was more “real” than state-of-the-art CGI.
This conversation lasted all this week. Every now and then:
O: Are werewolves ambushers or scavengers?
P: Neither. They just run about killing people. Plus, they’re not real.
O: In stories, (clever change of tack) when do werewolves come out?
P: During the full moon. Depending on the story, usually the night before, the night of, the night after. But they’re not real.
O: Is it a full moon tonight?
P: Er, yes, but it doesn’t matter, because werewolves aren’t real.
O: How do you become a werewolf?
P: It depends. If you are bitten or scratched by one, you become a werewolf. Otherwise they just eat you.
O: So, (ignoring the eating bit, thank the gods) how did the first werewolf get made?
P: A curse, usually. Someone annoyed a witch or a god.
O: Oh. Do they live in the city? Cos there’s lots of places here for them to hide.
P: Not really. They prefer forests and open spaces.
O: And they’re people, except for the full moon?
P: Yup. But they’re not real.
O: If I was a werewolf, I’d lock myself up during a full moon so I didn’t kill anyone.
P: That’s what Oz did in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (No, she hasn’t seen Buffy)
P: Ok. Seriously. They aren’t real. What evidence do you have to suggest that they are?
O: We-ell, if they were real, I suppose they’d be on the news.
P: Exactly. Have you seen them on the news?
P: There you go then.
Of course, there is so much wrong with using that argument to make a point that I can’t even begin. But at this point, I’m not trying to have a discussion about belief or the reliability of the media. I just want her to sleep without all of the lights in the house on.
O: So, werewolves won’t come into the house?
P: Nope. It’s too much of a hassle. There’s always someone wandering about in the bush or down a deserted road. By the way, could you take the dogs out into the backyard so they can go to the toilet?
My wife, working through the issue, got Ophelia to acknowledge that what she’s afraid of, with werewolves, is that she might die. So the issue is death, not a monthly curse and a diet high in raw meat. And that sounds about right for her age.
Not Me: There you do then. There are lots of other ways to die than by werewolf!
(I had to make sure I wasn’t blamed for that comment)
I’m pretty sure I was that age when I realised I might die and started freaking out at night time, much to the consternation of my parents, I would assume. I don’t remember ever abstracting my fear of death through ghosts or werewolves or anything. I went straight for the hardcore stuff. I mentioned that in an earlier blog.
No. Actually, there was an episode of Greatest American Hero. Our hero was lured into a cave or a dark room and then attacked by vampires. He wash!t invulnerable to them and the attacks in the dark freaked me out completely.
My brother-in-law, when we talked about it yesterday, suggested that “an ogre is always an ogre” but that a werewolf can be anybody. Taking that further, the werewolf has always been a metaphor for the beast in all of us. The ability (and even desire) to lash out and be destructive without being responsible for the actions. The werewolf did it, it wasn’t me.
I was going to use O as an intro to something bigger on fear in general, but this looks like a post in itself. Excellent. Fodder for the next one.
Night night. Don’t let the werewolves bite!