My son, now 11 years old, used to be fearless.
Then I took him into a haunted house one Halloween. I carelessly brought my wife along.
The kid was doing gloriously with all the scares. When my wife screamed and grabbed onto me for protection, our son decided he needed to get out of there no matter who or what he needed to run over. He’s been afraid of anything frightening ever since.
“I think it’s time to not be afraid anymore,” I told my son this Halloween season. “I think it’s time we watch a scary movie. And Mom’s not invited this time.”
“Dad, is this movie rated R?” the kid asked as I put in the DVD.
“So then it’s not appropriate for me,” he said.
“I was watching this stuff when I was in third grade,” I told him. “Aside from all the blood, a guy getting his eyes pushed into his head, and bugs eating a kid alive, it’s totally fine. It’s Halloween time -- it’s fun!”
Right away I could see the kid was really getting into it.
“Why aren’t you watching?” I asked. “This part is great!”
“This part is gross, Dad.”
“You’re gonna miss it.”
“Tell me when I have.”
Seriously, how can you not enjoy these movies?
“This is dumb, Dad, why doesn’t he run? That thing’s gonna get him if he just sits there.”
“That’s the fun of it all,” I told him. “Doesn’t it get you all worked up?”
“That thing’s gonna pop out any time now -- AHHHHHHH!”
“Open your eyes, here comes the pushing-in-his-eyes part.”
The kid wasn’t getting it.
“Wait,” he said, “so the Halloween mask itself is evil and will kill people?”
“Now you’re catching on. Isn’t it great?”
“What are you guys watching?” my wife asked when she unexpectedly appeared into the room.
“It’s a scary movie, Mom.”
“This isn’t appropriate for an 11-year-old,” she said.
“I saw this movie when I was 8,” I told her to calm her down.
At the scene where the bugs devour the kid like he was a fun-size candy bar, my son allowed himself the pleasure of watching.
“Eeeeew, is that real?” he asked.
“What do you think?” I said. “Of course it’s real!”
“No it’s not,” my wife assured our son. “Wait, don’t go in there. She’s gonna get -- AHHHHH!”
My wife went for the remote control to turn the movie off.
“No, not yet, Mom,” my son shouted. “They’re kissing.”
I turned it off.
“Why is death OK, but kissing is not?” the boy asked. “It’s just love. Killing is a sin.”
“OK, the killing is fake,” I admitted. “But that love stuff is serious.”
Maybe we needed to wait a little longer before introducing the kid to scary movies.
That night, my wife woke me up.
“Did you hear that?”
“No,” I said. “Go back to sleep.”
“This is your fault -- you made me watch that dumb scary movie and now I’m hearing things.”
After investigation, I discovered my son in the living room watching the rest of the scary movie.
“I couldn’t sleep, Dad. This movie gave me nightmares.”
“Then why are you watching the end of it?”
I turned it off.
“Wait, it’s almost over,” the kid stopped me.
“But you said you were having nightmares.”
“Yeah,” he said, “isn’t it great?”
Mission accomplished. Yes! My son’s ready for Halloween haunted houses again.