Sunday, April 27, 2008

Orcs Don't Go Bump in the Night

When he was about eight, my son went to see The Two Towers with his dad. Some people thought we were completely nuts to let a child so young see it. He'd surely get nightmares, they said. It was way too intense for a third grader. But we knew our son.

Some time before, we'd gotten The Fellowship of the Ring on DVD. As I left for a commitment that night, my husband started watching it. I was a bit concerned about the scariness level for the kids, but he promised that he'd turn it off if our son showed any signs of anxiety. The girls weren't interested anyway, so they wouldn't be watching.

When I returned that night, I discovered that not only had my little guy not been terrified by the Orcs (creatures that quite frankly freaked me out in the theater), but that he had watched the movie on his feet, jumping off the couch and pretending to slash Orcs right along with Aragon. I should have known; ever since he could hold anything relatively narrow and long, he'd been pretending to sword fight. The drive must be on the Y chromosome or something.

(Toy store store employees were horrified when we tried buying him a toy sword. What kind of psycho parents were we?! I'm sorry, but a hollow, plastic light saber doesn't do as much damage as a metal butter knife.)

He loved the movie. What about nightmares? None. At all.

A few weeks later, our 3-year-old daughter got a Disney Nintendo game starring Mickey Mouse. The game, intended for preschoolers, had cheery music a cute graphics. Typical Disney. The player was to go through the magical world and gather up the pieces of a broken mirror and put it back together again, because a ghost had broken it. That's about as much as I remember about it. All of the kids played the game, including our son as he helped his younger sisters figure it out.

Within days, he began having regular nightmares . . . about the Disney ghost in his closet.

Somehow the animated ghost terrified him and seemed real, whereas the bloodied Orcs remained firmly in his fantasy imagination. Go figure.

He wasn't allowed to play the Mickey Mouse game anymore, but he was allowed to see The Two Towers. Again, no nightmares.

The only person who got a start was my husband, who, on the way home from the theater, heard our son whisper from the backseat in a perfect imitation: "My precious . . ." who then laughed his head off when Dad jumped.


Anonymous said...

ooooo! i hate that "my precious" line! those movies creeped me out and i only went because my hubby and teens wanted to go.

but that is kinda wild how an innocent sweet little kiddy story gave nightmares.

one of the "brady bunch" shows from the 70s gave me nightmares when i was a kid. seriously, i am not joking. it was the episode where one of the kids dreams that jesse james attacks the family on a train (kills or just threatens, i don't remember). that nightmared me for years! you never know what seemingly innocent thing will get a kid like that.

great day, kathleenybeany :)

Luisa Perkins said...

It always fascinates me what scares us and what doesn't.

Julie Wright said...

I am the resident baby. Everything scares me whereas my daughter wanted to be a bloodied mummy creature for halloween when she was only TWO years old. When she was little she chanted the phrase "nothin' scares me!" like a mantra. So it was with huge amounts of surprise when she asked me to walk to the store we own with her one night. The store is literally fifty feet from our back porch. She held the keys with trembling fingers and looked at me with pleading eyes. How the girl who lived for monster movies could be afraid was beyond me, but then she told me she'd heard about a girl who got attacked by some guy in a neighboring town. So it's not the monsters with fangs and bloody claws she's afraid of, but the real ones living in our real world. So sad.
Oh and our kids love the tolkein series. :)

Karlene said...

Those Siamese cats from Lady & the Tramp always gave me nightmares. I still shudder at the thought of them.

Anonymous said...

Okay, here's a kick for ya!

For about a year and a half in my early twenties, while suffering from an extreme anxiety, I could NOT watch the movie "What About Bob". It freaked me out every time. The strange side of that equation is that, when I couldn't sleep, I'd put "Jurassic Park" in the VCR, curl up on the couch, and be asleep within five minutes. I'd snooze until I heard the end credits music playing, then wake up, rewind and sleep another hour and a half.

Yeah, I know. I'm a weirdo.

Braden Bell said...

LOL, Annette. This is both a charming story and an instructive tale about how the most important thing for a child is engaged, tuned-in parents. One size does not fit all.


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