Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Scaring Ourselves ...and Babies Too


I really enjoyed hearing from so many of you about the horror movies that had made an impact/scarred you for life and I started ruminating on just why it is many of us purposely scare ourselves, whether by bungee jumping, riding terrifying carnival rides (I still remember (The Bullet,) or reading murder mysteries.  

Then I thought -- we even scare our children with nursery rhymes:

Rock a bye, baby,  in the tree top,
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock,
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall,
And down will come baby, cradle and all.


One of the first games we play with babies is Peek A Boo -- and, for the most part, babies love it -- once they realize that no one's really disappeared. 

"I'm going to eat you up!" I remember this being a term of endearment -- usually some elderly aunt pretending to gobble up the baby's fingers or toes -- and again, once the baby realized it was just a silly game, it was fun.


And then, when the baby is a child, we read them stories like Hansel and Gretel where the parents really have gone away and the wicked witch really is going to eat the children up.

But the story ends with the children outsmarting the witch and putting things right.  I think of The Wizard of Oz and that witch and her flying monkeys -- overcome at last by a little girl. 

 And perhaps that's the point of the scary stuff -- testing ourselves in preparation for the real scary stuff that life may fling at us. 


And telling us that Evil can be defeated if we take a stand.


13 comments:

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

What a great post -- yes, tests as children will make us strong in our later life preparing us hopefully to take a stand against evil -- barbara

Merisi said...

"Rock a bye, baby" always had me wondering why it never scared me in the slightest. ;-)


"Ring Around the Rosie" is rhyme that sent chills down my spine when I first read about its alleged origins inWikipedia.

Merisi said...

(The German rhyme of "Ring around the Rosie" has really beautiful imagery - there was a big elderberry tree next to my parents' farmhouse, I always imagined dancing under it.)

Brian Miller said...

i think some of our stories do allow us to see our way through...and visualize overcoming evil...

i must have missed that question...i think the horror that is scary is that which is most real...i think The Walking Dead is a great horror tv show...and its less the zombies as it is that you begin to care about the people and there is so much just every day stuff that you can be taken out by

B. Rogers, Living in Black Mountain said...

I used to think I was strong enough to watch Psycho and not be terrified. But I also learned to close my eyes at times. Maybe a bit of an ostrich here...and I didn't really like Silence of the Lambs except it was so suspenseful.

NCmountainwoman said...

I love the idea of scary books for children. I would have loved Neil Gaiman's "Coraline" or "The Graveyard Book" when I was a kid.

And those campfire scary stories? Oh, the best.

Mary M. said...

My first scarey movie was "The Wizard of Oz", which a friend's mother took me to when I was about 8 or 9. The flying monkeys and the witch horrified me. I spent most of the movie on the floor in front of my seat. Pitiful!

Suz said...

Oh that reminds me...the one scary movie that I cannot ever watch again...
In Cold Blood

Gwen said...

I didn't like the Wizard of Oz when I was young. Those flying monkey's gave me nightmares. When I was older, it didn't bother me as much. I have never understood why people sing Rock-a-bye Baby to their children. Instead, I sang "When You Wish Upon A Star" to my children. Maybe that wasn't such a good idea either - encouraging entitlement feelings?!

Jim Egerton said...

I guess my favorite was Joel Chandler Harris's Uncle Remus stories. Bur Bear Bur Fox Bur Rabbit and the Willow the Wisp. I had a wonderful aunt Josephine. What would not suit her in the written work she would make up. her stories intermingled with the written word and sometimes much scarier. Of course this was before I could read.

Jim Egerton said...

I guess my favorite was Joel Chandler Harris's Uncle Remus stories. Bur Bear Bur Fox Bur Rabbit and the Willow the Wisp. I had a wonderful aunt Josephine. What would not suit her in the written work she would make up. her stories intermingled with the written word and sometimes much scarier. Of course this was before I could read.

Thérèse said...

It is exactly that and I think that these days we read more and more of these scary stories! Here in France I am not wondering why... :-)
But I am an optimistic.

Star said...

The Three Bears used to frighten me when I was little. I really believed that one day I would see them in the wood, walking together back from their gatherings. We don't have bears in the wild here in England any more, but when I was in America, well I have to admit, I was a little nervous in the woods!