When Scary Really Isn’t All That Fun…

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As Halloween approaches I cannot help but remember my own childhood and the fun and fear that October 31st always brought for me.  I was like any other kid… I loved getting free candy!  I loved the sheer genius of a holiday that encourages children to ring the doorbell of strangers and gladly take their sweet offering.   Every other day of the year I was told not to talk to strangers, and certainly not to accept candy from strangers.  However, the great exception to this rule happened once a year.

I knew it and so did everyone else.

But other than dressing up and getting free candy… I hated the scary aspect of the night.  I hated that things I could not see would jump out at me.  I did not enjoy the breathless feeling of fear that would grip my heart as we approached a scary house.

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I never wanted to enter the haunted houses or take candy from anyone dressed like a zombie, a serial killer or any other kind of monster.  I did not like to be scared, and I still don’t.

One reason I think I hated the fear aspect of the holiday was because my own young life had been exposed to real trauma, and I didn’t want to feel that familiar feeling again.

I knew the reality that sometimes bad, horrible things really do happen.

Parents really do leave and fail to return.

It happens and it’s terrifying and horrific.  There is nothing fun or exciting about a real trauma in a real life.

I am not the only one who understands this principle… unfortunately.

Many children suffer from childhood trauma and then must endure a day set aside to scare the pants off them.  Why?  Is the fear really necessary for the holiday to be enjoyable?  I understand that some people enjoy being scared and like the fear aspect of the night.  People are entitled to their opinions and have the God given right to create haunted houses and scary, gory costumes.  I just struggle to find ways to protect my own children from the extra fear that they do not need in their lives.

My children know what it means to suffer.  The trauma that happened was out of my control and there was nothing I could do to protect them from it.  It was horrible and it happened.  We are healing from our heartache, but what exactly can I do to protect my children from the stress that could be ignited by the festivities this Friday?

My children are excited for the night as most children are.  They do not want to miss out on any of the fun.  We will go trick or treating and we will see many different scary things.  There will be scenarios that I cannot predict, and cannot protect my children from.

Kind of like real life?

I can, however hold their hands (well at least hold my son’s hand, my daughter is too old for PDA with her mom!).  I can be present with them when they encounter the scary things.  I can reassure them that these things are not real.

I can distract them with the loads of candy they will cart home, even though I will throw large handfuls of the candy in the garbage when they are not looking.

I can help them focus on the things that are positive even in the midst of the scary.  I will teach them to look for the light in the middle of the darkness, and to fight for joy in the midst of pain.

Again, kind of like real life.

“Images courtesy of {Witthaya Phonsawat & hin255}/FreeDigitalPhotos.net”