Ask Aunt Chelsea
Dear Aunt Chelsea:
Our son is ten (almost eleven, as he constantly reminds us) and wants to go a haunted house attraction that advertises itself as “blood-curdling.” He says he knows it’s all an act, but we’re both worried that it might be too intense, or just plain unhealthy, for someone of his age. I don’t want to be responsible for weeks, months or even years of bad dreams. Should we let him go?
Haunted by a house
A few decades ago, I’d have said to keep the little one at home and out of psychological harm’s way for as long as possible — but that sort of advice went out of style at roughly the same time as rotary dial phones. The notion that we can protect our kids from growing up without being hideously scarred by something is a lie that adults tell themselves in order to have some sort of control — just as Halloween horrors are a way for kids to keep the terrors of real life at bay. So let him go. He’s far better off in a house where the blood is fake and the scares are real than he would be at home, watching Fox News “reporting” on the twin evils of Ebola and Obama. Now that’s what I call a nightmare scenario!
And Now, Dear Readers
Here’s a letter from the vaults (or, more appropriately, the crypt). Yes, it’s a reprint — but the problem is as timely as it was in 2012, and will be in 2120
Dear Aunt Chelsea:
This year, it’s our turn to host the Halloween party for families in our building. We’ve always seen ourselves as hip and fun parents, but can’t decide whether to give the kids candy or healthy treats.
Letting the little ones dress up like bloody zombies only to reward them with sugar-free organic snacks is a mixed signal guaranteed to inspire disillusionment and mistrust. Hand out apples instead of jumbo Kit Kats, and you might as well include an engraved invitation for the juicebox set to leave burning doggy stuff on your doorstep.
You see yourselves as hip and fun parents? Then see this holiday for what it is: an annual get out of jail free card for mischievous behavior and eating inappropriate amounts of junk food. You can’t spell “kid” without “id” — so let them run wild, and make sure there are plenty of pillows on the floor (to act as shock absorbers once they start bouncing off the walls). When they wake up on November 1st with a tummy ache, hand them an orange and tell them the party’s over.
Eventually, we all need advice from a caring but uninvolved source. When your time comes, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.