Sunday, 28 October 2012

Scared of the dark? Well, maybe just a little bit...

Upper image: Jolly Pumpkin (from a photocopied sheet). Lower image: Friendly Ghost (drawn by my son).
Now I'd never really liked Hallowe'en: I was rather a timid child with absolutely no desire to go into all that scary stuff, Things that went bump in the night and so on. Thinking about it now, though, I do wonder about this, because I used to love folk tales, ancient myths and legends, the bloodier and more magic-soaked the better - Greek, Norse, Irish, English, Welsh, and anything else I could find - with their glimpses of different, alien worlds and ideas.

My problem with Hallowe'en was, basically, that it was so very ugly: if you were a girl you would probably end up as a skinny, warty witch with missing teeth and birds-nest hair. As a whole, the concept did not seem to have much to recommend it from the point of view of a skinny, gap-toothed kid who had veruccas from the swimming-pool and hair that would never behave itself, no matter what you did with it.

But now? I see my four-year-old son and his need to tell stories through play on topics which puzzle him, things he needs to figure out in his head. Often these are the dark things that grown-ups don't like to talk about, like violence and death. So it's not at all contradictory that my son is scared of the dark, but that he loves Hallowe'en. He is mightily puzzled by death, and he loves ghosts. He particularly likes friendly ghosts (see his drawing, above - isn't it great?).

I now understand that we all sometimes need space to tell our stories about the scary stuff, to be able to look the Thing that goes bump in the night straight in the eyes and say F*** YOU.

And my hair still will not behave itself, no matter what I do with it.


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  2. I hate the ugly part, too, and Zack is nine but was scared to tears by some of the costumes he saw at school. I also wanted to thank you for your kind comment on my blog today (I wish I had your email!)