So You've Accidentally Shown Your Four-Year-Old Naked, Bloody Vampires

Categories: Parenting

Pily's Place Childcare
I am a pretty lenient parent when it comes to what I allow The Daughter With One F to see, as folks here who have read about our mutual obsession with Doctor Who will already know. I can't help it. I saw Jaws: The Revenge in theaters when I was six. My dad told me to read Harlan Ellison when I was 12. I really kind of don't know any better.

That said, I know that the real danger of exposing a kid to certain things, no matter how artistic, is not because images of blood or sex are some kind of powerful Satanic talisman that transforms the mind of a young viewer into some pole-dancing serial killer. It's that these images can be very confusing to someone whose current entertainment staples not only are thoroughly G-rated, they don't even have bad guys.

Seriously, does it bother everyone else that whenever they have sports episodes on Bubble Guppies everyone is on the same team essentially winning and losing at the same time? That just seems so un-American.

See also: Doctor Who: The Doctor and I Explain Death to a Four-Year-Old

This last week some wonderful happenstance led to me getting my subscription box cleared out at 8th Dimension Comics, and the wife and I spent an evening after the kid went to bed catching up on our favorite books like Red Hood and the Outlaws and Saga, not to mention her personal favorite, Angel & Faith. We geeked hard until midnight then went to bed.

The child has long since decided that sleeping past 7:30 a.m. is a sucker's game. A typical morning involves her getting up and climbing into bed with us just long enough to inform me that I need to rouse myself to prepare cereal and cartoons. This I do, then slink back to bed while she watches Little Bear.

After gaining the strength to face the day proper, I came out of the bedroom and found her reading all my comics that we had left out on the table when we retired.

"Look daddy!" she said pointing to a panel where Angela and Faith slowly decapitate a reptilian monster in #10. "A dinosaur man!" Not far from her I also saw an open copy of Saga where the ghost of a young girl floats around with her intestines dangling out of her severed torso. Other books lay all over the floor.

Now, it's very important to not freak out in moments like this. You don't really damage the resale value too much by leaving comics on the floor.


Seriously, you don't need to suddenly throw your hands up in the air and start screaming to Jesus to banish the images from the pure mind of this poor child. That's a very big no-no. First of all, any time you slip out and get angry kids think that it's their fault. They are, essentially, very self-centered beings by nature of their development. There is almost no picture in the world that is scarier than a parent having a meltdown, so don't do that.

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I used to babysit my cousin beginning when he was 3 weeks old. My mom used think that my Hieronymus Bosch prints, Skinny Puppy records and other dark interests might make him either scared or he would become a maladjusted person. Now this is the woman that let her own 5 kids watch The Exorcist (edited for TV) and Amityville Horror but this goth thing was a bit much for her. He spent about 3 years in my care and he is now a very funny, intelligent, courteous 21 year old man with a great (and varied) taste in music, movies, books, and yes, Doctor Who. I like to think that his exposure was more of a gateway to exploring the various representations of the human experience , which is what all the arts do. 


While I don't have kids, I'm the cool auntie of all circles kids - and I have found that unless you freak out many children don't have the cultural context to understand the images that they see. So much of the unstable for children stuff just rolls off their back like water off of a duck.


When I was 4, my grandmother used to have me with her when she watched her murder mystery shows or movies like Arsenic and Old Lace and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. And my aunt took me to the theater for creature movies like Godzilla or the 50 foot woman. I think I was never traumatized or warped by it. I think your girl will be just fine. I also think we parents over protect at times and sometimes get it wrong. I'd rather my kid see Angel and Faith comics (and she has) than buy into the Disney princess-ification bull shit that makes them think being a pretty twit who always needs rescued it what girls are supposed to be.

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