As a child, I never understood Halloween. I didn’t like it. I didn’t like scary stories at school, and I didn’t want to do after-school activities around Halloween.
My grandparents took a pretty laid-back approach to most things in terms of what I liked, disliked or didn’t want to do. There were rules that had to be obeyed about things we had to do, but with the optional stuff, I was never pushed into things. Even when they were supposed to be fun things. If I didn’t find them fun, I wasn’t made to take part. You don’t like the loud school disco? Ok, you don’t have to go.
I think some people thought this was a bit over-indulgent. I was encouraged to try things, but if after that the answer was still no, then that was no big deal.
Things that were meant to be a treat or fun for other children were not always fund for me. That was ok.
It was the same with Halloween. I wasn’t a fan of scary things.
To be honest, I just didn’t get the logic behind it.
I knew what it was to feel scared. I didn’t like being scared. You feel scared when something bad is about to happen, or you’re on your own in a dangerous situation, or something is going to hurt you. When you feel scared, the sensible thing to do is to work out what to do so you don’t feel scared any more or the danger goes away. This means getting out of the situation, getting help, or finding a solution.
If a child has a bad dream, the first thing the parent does is tell them not to be scared. It was just a dream.
So why did people actually want to feel scared when it isn’t a positive emotion? That’s like wanting to make yourself really sad – for fun! Why would you do that?
This is the way my brain worked as a child! I didn’t see it as me that was different, but everyone else being illogical!
When you think about it, some of the things that we tell children don’t make a lot of sense. Santa comes down the chimney into your house when you’re asleep, or the tooth fairy creeps into your room, sneaks up to your pillow and takes your tooth away. That’s kind of terrifying! I stopped believing in both very early, but I just wanted to use them as other examples.
Most children just accept it, but if you take a step back and look at it literally, it doesn’t make a lot of sense.
As an adult, I get the idea more now, though I’m still not a fan of horror or going out of my way to make myself scared.
We were reading an audio book the other day and it had an unexpected scary part! I find the most frightening things are the things that could actually happen and not things that are completely way out there in fantasy land. I was ok with it, but glad that I wasn’t on my own. The only Other time I can think of as an adult was listening to a really scary audio drama late at night, and calling my dog up on the bed, telling her to stay there with me till I’d calmed down.
But now I can see the fun in it. Children like dressing up. Hey, even adults like dressing up! Carving pumpkins is fun. Scary books or films can be fun as long as they’re not too weird (sometimes if you can’t see something, you don’t get why it’s so scary). Cooking things with pumpkins is fun! And in any event, the bad guys get defeated in most stories anyway! Or they turn out to be not as bad as you think!
This black and white way of thinking can help you to be clear about what you want, but it can also mean that you close your mind to things. Now that I don’t automatically reject everything to do with Halloween, I realise that parts of it can be enjoyable too, especially if you do it with friends. But I think I had to make this realisation for myself – if anyone had tried to force me into it, I would have just resisted.
I think my Nan knew that, which is why she didn’t push the point. Ok, I didn’t have the same Halloween experience as other children, but we found other fun things to do.
How about you? Did you enjoy Halloween as a child? Do your children like it?
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