Sunday, May 3, 2009

In which Bram Stoker makes life more difficult than it actually needs to be

So last week on school library day the kid comes home with a new library book. Which is a good start to the story because sometimes the whole library process seems a bit daunting to the kid. Despite the general love of books and niceness of school librarians.

So the kid gets the book out of the library bag and it looks like your standard DK kind of non-fiction jobby with the pictures and the white space and the big words on the front. And the big word says 'Dracula' and the picture is of a pale green guy with a moustache that is weirdly like fangs, or fangs that are weirdly like a moustache. One or the other.

And I'm thinking to myself, 'hmm, this is so not a good idea'. And also, 'I guess this'll be a test of my no-censorship approach to parenting'. And I'm also thinking, 'how can I get it away from him without him noticing, so it's not a big deal, and also Not Censorship, because then he'll just forget about it until library day and that'll be just avoidance, which is a perfectly fine approach to parenting'. And I think a bit more, but then I forget all about it because (as the whole Aslan thing shows) I am a bad mama when it comes to scary things in books.

So he read it, and he didn't complain about it being scary or ask any questions or talk about it at all and I thought to myself 'what a weird little fellow, he's frightened of the incredibly badly written hags in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but Dracula doesn't bother him. Heh.'

And then we fast forward a few days. In which we have nice times with Nana, visit some art galleries, eat a lot of dead cow and dead sheep, plus a few dead squids and also buy some cheese.

And then tonight, as it starts to get dark, things just become a little bit more difficult. Tears about a cat that died when the kid was but a babe in arms, tears about Nana's dogs who died of old age, tears about the death of the oldest person in the world. Followed by a quiet comment, 'I'm a bit afraid of the dark, actually'.


Mr Dracula has been banished from the bedroom and will be returned to the school library immediately. The kid has now issued instructions for me to advise him on the scariness of library books so that he can decide not to read them if they are likely to be more scary than Dracula (so long as I don't describe the scariness in scary ways). I explained to the kid that he is highly unlikely to find a book more scary than Dracula, even in the abridged and apparently child-friendly version from the school library.

The kid and I now have a mutual respect for Mr Stoker's ability to scare the socks off people for more than one hundred years. We decided that Mr Stoker would be well chuffed at this result. The kid also figures out that Mr Stoker would be more than 140 years old, which is clearly bothering the kid, what with the whole undead thing and such.

Coincidentally, I am also scared that one of the husband's characters, who may or may not be the narrator or indeed even the author of one of his short stories, is sneaking up behind me even as we speak, and not being as fictional as he damn well should be. Which is a problem because the husband (who is really the author) isn't home for another half an hour, and I'm afraid he'll give me a fright when he comes in.

The Noodle is asleep with the covers over his head. I am going to sit at the kitchen table and watch the back door.

You all have a lovely evening.


kazari said...

Did you give the noodle some garlic to take to bed? It might help.
As for characters that come out of books, writing their names on paper and burning it is a pretty good cure - take that, paper person!

I had a great book when I was little, talking about all the different things you could encounter in your nightmares... witches, dragons, monsters, ghosts, quicksand... and then instructions about what to do. You squirt the monsters with toothpaste, because they don't like mint. You scare the witches by showing them a mirror with their reflection. You blow enormous bubblegum bubbles to escape the dragon.
I loved that book : )

kazari said...

ps I don't think you're a bad mama at all.

Revie said...

My 13 year old sleeps with the light on at night now because they had to read the original Dracula for her 8th grade lit class. She also worries about the bathroom in our house that has a shower curtain behind the sink because she thinks something will be lurking back there now.

I'm not sure what to do about it except let her sleep with the light on and use a different bathroom. She's lucky we have more than one, I guess.

Penthe said...

We're lucky to have a small house with limited hiding spaces. Garlic, good idea!

aztec-rose said...

Noodle was very brave to even have an encounter with a vampire book. To me they have always been the scariest of monsters. My Possum has a grave fear of witches lately, a topic she always seems to bring up right before bed.
Garlic sounds good, if not for the vampires at least warding of those evil, lurking flu viruses.

Shayne Parkinson said...

I read "Jane Eyre" when I was much too young, and for long time afterwards I was terrified getting into bed, because a madwoman was probably lurking under it. Goodness knows what reading "Dracula" would have done to me!

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