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If your kid is scared by Santa Claus and clowns, don't take them to a haunted house.
September 23, 2011 6:37 AM   Subscribe

H'ween parent filter Halloween is for little kids, but it's also for scares. I found this to be helpful in determining when it's appropriate for the twixt to meet.
posted by Straw Cab (34 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
The twixt? Are you sure? :-)
posted by Decani at 6:47 AM on September 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


ah, the twain
posted by Straw Cab at 6:51 AM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


My daughter swears she was SCARRED FOR LIFE because we took her to Cirque de Soleil when she was 6. I didn't get to see much of the show because I spent most of it outside with her but I guess she saw enough to make a big impression. My mom had thought this would be a fun family outing and to this day I think it could have gone either way. I think the child herself has to make the decision to embrace the scary stuff.

The Snow White ride at Disneyland, for one, is a terrifically scary ride in the dark with things jumping out at you but my daughter loved that ride. I'm sure I rode it many times as a child as well (along with all the others like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride) without any lasting effects.

My old church handled this situation well; when the Youth Group had their Haunted House, they would have a walk through with all the lights on for the youngest members followed by the more traditional lights out walk through for those children who were up for it.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:52 AM on September 23, 2011


I went to a haunted house when I was 7 or 8. I absolutely freaked the fuck out and had to be carried out, sobbing. The embarrassing part is that it was geared towards kids my age. I still avoid them.
posted by desjardins at 6:54 AM on September 23, 2011


Here's how you do Halloween: forget all the Haunted Houses (because apparently, some parents won't take their kids to them because they might get "scared") and go straight to the source--TRICK OR TREATERS.

I got bored with trick-or-treating pretty early on, so I spent my Halloweens at home doling out candy. I'd get dressed up in a full head-covering mask, oversized clothes stuffed with newspaper, big gloves and shoes, and park myself in a chair on the porch. I'd sit there with a bowl of candy in my lap and a sign around my neck saying "we're not home, please take ONE piece of candy." Then I'd stay perfectly still until some kid came up to get his candy...and I'd grab his arm.

The best were the ones who'd try to game the system, and proudly proclaim to their friends that since no one was watching, they could take ALL THE CANDY. Those kids screamed the loudest. Little jerks.

This is waaaaay more fun than trick or treating.
posted by phunniemee at 6:55 AM on September 23, 2011 [27 favorites]


The twixt? Are you sure? :-)

From my vague memories of Halloween, little kids and Twixt will be brought together at some time during the process. At least in the US. Not sure what they call Twixt elsewhere. It's a nasty candy bar, but that's a common fault among Halloween "treats."
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:57 AM on September 23, 2011


Usually I eat the cookie off the bottom first and save the caramel for last.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:58 AM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


For the last several years a bunch of us in our neighborhood have set up a haunted house across a couple of driveways. The first 20 feet or so is the "fluffy bunny" section, with some animatronic stuff, fog machine, creepy music. At the entrance we have a volunteer telling people that the first part is a a bit scary but there's an exit for little kids along the way. At the end of the section there's an exit door and a volunteer who tries to herd the little kids out, pointing out to the adults going through that this is the point where it gets scary. There are *always* a bunch of dads who try to macho their kids into going into the scary section. This results in the following conversation:
Volunteer: Sir, I wouldn't advise you take your kids through that door. It can get pretty scary
Dad: Oh, they can take anything you dish out
Volunteer: No really, we know what's through there, have seen how kids react. I don't think you should do it. Look, we've got candy out here.
Dad: My kids are tough!
Kid: Dad, I don't want to go
Dad: Shut up, you're going through it.
And then the first time a chain-saw wielding maniac jumps out the kid melts down, the dad starts yelling "what the hell is wrong with you people scaring little kids!" and we have to shut the whole thing down and escort the little tyke back against the flow. This probably scars the kid for life, it's a major downer for all the actors (cause really the intent is not to scare kids too young for it, you assume the parents know enough to take the exit), and the dad threatens lawsuits.
posted by Runes at 6:58 AM on September 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Secret Life of Gravy, oh man, the snow white ride. I brought offspring on that when she was four and the dang thing got stuck mid-witch-scare scenes. As my daughter cries for dear life I have the worst flashback to me at age four, stuck in the exact same spot on the exact same ride, crying my heart out.

So I know that she can never ever see Jaws. Basically, she's me cloned, and all I have to do is remember that stuff like car washes are hella scary, but vampires in capes are cool.
posted by dabitch at 7:01 AM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Twix is a candy bar.

Betwixt and between
means a half way or a middle point.

Never the twain shall meet means two things that are so different they will never unite.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:04 AM on September 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


At Castle Blood, we offer two types of tours.

My extremely squeamish kids wouldn't make it past the name. Some of them call it "the b-word".
posted by DU at 7:05 AM on September 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wasn't The Twixt an early rock-and-roll hit for Xhubby Xhecker?
posted by hippybear at 7:06 AM on September 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


Hey, surprisingly good info. Parents really are the best judge, though sometimes your kids will surprise you. My oldest son hand an utterly unexpected meltdown once on the Jaws ride at Universal, when we had explained the whole concept to him, fake robot shark and all, before we'd gone on the ride, and he'd seemed fine with it. He also couldn't watch shows with "special effects" because loud noises and bright lights really bothered him.

The Snow White ride at Disneyland, for one, is a terrifically scary ride in the dark with things jumping out at you but my daughter loved that ride.

Ah, man, fond memories of Snow White at Disney World!

As a teenager, my friends and I would ride all the kids' rides in the theme parks, just for fun. We had passes to Disney back then and worked in Busch Gardens, so it was free to get in there, and we could go in off-season, when the lines were short.

We were obnoxious.

In BG, we knew all the employee service roads. There used to be a spot where you could stand up and just step right off the flume log ride and end up near the skyride entrance. You'd miss the last big plunge, so I usually passed up on the chance, but the look on the attendants' faces when a boat came back with one person instead of four was priceless. Instant panic. I think they put a fence up now.

Over at Disney, we took advantage of knowing where all the cameras were. We didn't do the "flash the camera" thing because I was a very modest good girl (my, how times change!) and that might actually get you thrown out. But we knew how to avoid the cameras and have fun. In Pirates of the Caribbean at DW, you can reach up and tickle the dangling pirate's foot...I forget all the things we used to do.

But wow, we all remembered being scared as little kids in Snow White. So when we rode that one, we'd always go way over the top, and shriek and scream and act frightened to death at the littlest thing, way before even the scary witch showed up with the apple. By the time we got to the end of the ride, any little kids in our car would be earnestly comforting us with, "It's just pretend, okay?". They'd leave feeling very Grown Up compared to those sissy teens. That was a blast.
posted by misha at 7:21 AM on September 23, 2011 [10 favorites]


I had the absolute tar scared out of me by an operating room scene in a haunted house when I was probably 7 or 8. Just lost my mind and couldn't wait to get the hell out of there. It was sort of unexpected, since all I ever wanted to watch were horror movies. I think I was just spooked by suddenly being in a "hospital."
posted by uncleozzy at 7:24 AM on September 23, 2011


If a person can understand that this is all pretend...

Wait. What? I've been avoiding haunted houses all my life for nothing?
posted by orme at 7:51 AM on September 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


By the time we got to the end of the ride, any little kids in our car would be earnestly comforting us with, "It's just pretend, okay?". They'd leave feeling very Grown Up compared to those sissy teens.

....that's really cute. :-)

I had the absolute tar scared out of me by an operating room scene in a haunted house when I was probably 7 or 8. Just lost my mind and couldn't wait to get the hell out of there. ... I think I was just spooked by suddenly being in a "hospital."

"If your kid is scared by Santa or horror films, just say no" is a good rule of thumb, but what can scare an individual kid is often unpredictable and can change. I remember being really easily startled when I was six and seven -- the Star Trek episode with the Horta scared the shit out of me, and I never watched the PBS runs of the Tom Baker Doctor Who because the opening credits were themselves too much for me. But then when I was nine, most scary movies were okay-- because it was atomic bombs I was afraid of. (Seriously -- you know how you had a mental image of The Monster that would be in your closet if you dared look? I was literally convinced that a mushroom cloud was waiting in my closet for me a couple times.)

And then at the other end of the spectrum: I've heard that when they were filming the first X-Files movie, Gillian Anderson's 3-year-old saw one of the actors in the full alien costume for that film, and ran over and hugged it, delightedly shouting, "A clown! Yay!"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:53 AM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow. The only things that freaked me out as a kid (or maybe just made me squirm) were:
Captain Kangaroo's "Magic Hands" sequences. I think it was the Saber Dance music that did it.

Don Knotts as Barney Fife on the Andy Griffith Show. That guy just made me so uncomfortable i had to leave the room.

Santa and clowns were just lame...
posted by cccorlew at 8:05 AM on September 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


My extremely squeamish kids wouldn't make it past the name. Some of them call it "the b-word".

Mine as well, and I'm sorta glad. I'm not easily surprised or scared and I don't like it when I am, so it's usually a lose-lose for me. I suppose I enjoy gore and blood as much as any American male ... but not enough to bother with a crowd or pay to see it.

One of the scariest things I've ever seen was a crazy, diseased squirrel eating the head of a dead squirrel, and that was right in my front yard for free.

What do they prefer to watch on television or other video media?

Or, dare I say, read? I think reading actually better prepares kids for distinguishing fantasy from reality. (Aside from cartoons) TV seems like mediated reality to kids, I think--at least it did to me.

...

It was sort of unexpected, since all I ever wanted to watch were horror movies. I think I was just spooked by suddenly being in a "hospital."

Yeah, that's sorta what I mean.

I don't remember being scared by haunted houses or really anything fake when I was a kid (I knew these places had to be (or so I thought) careful not to hurt anyone and I had a pretty good grasp on real vs. playing), but haunted houses also certainly weren't as elaborate (or technological) back then.

Never the twain shall meet means two things that are so different they will never unite.

Simpler: twain means two.

"Never the twain shall meet" is from the poem The Ballad of East and West by Rudyard Kiping, and also I suppose it's an idiom now, it's mostly just a quote:

Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face, tho’ they come from the ends of the earth!

posted by mrgrimm at 8:13 AM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


The scariest part of Halloween for this suburban mom? Food allergies.
posted by wensink at 8:14 AM on September 23, 2011


but haunted houses also certainly weren't as elaborate (or technological) back then.

Yes! I was a participant in a haunted house at the tender age of 7 (so around 1964) and my role was victim. I had to lie on the floor of an empty room all alone, in the dark, drenched in something like tabasco ketchup. For years whenever I smelled that particular condiment, I got this weird feeling of creepydangerbeingbravetimidity.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:26 AM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Obligatory Best Halloween Story Ever /. link
posted by mikelieman at 8:49 AM on September 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


I grew up in family housing for University of Michigan graduate students while my dad was finishing his Ph.D, and I guess they had undergraduate dorms decorate their halls for kids to come trick or treat in. So I got all dressed up in my awesome Monarch Butterfly costume with my mom, and we went to go trick or treating. I think I was four or five? Nobody had explained to these undergrads that there would be four year olds coming through, so they had made it absolutely terrifying! Operating rooms gone wrong, bloody handprints all over the walls, and the worst was, since I was scared, I was sort of dragging behind and my mom and I were at the end of the bunch. I distinctly remember a group of blood covered people hiding under a sheet CHASING US WITH KNIVES. Every now and then, that hallway features prominently in a nightmare. Those people must have been really mean, or really into it, because I remember sobbing in terror while they chased us.

Fortunately, the next floor was decorated in a Disney theme and they kept the stupid scary Beast out of it.
posted by ChuraChura at 8:52 AM on September 23, 2011


No, this is the obligatory best Halloween Story Ever.

(Although it's not scary, I'll grant.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:56 AM on September 23, 2011


I dunno, EmpressCallipygos, I'm currently finishing up _The Dark Tower_, so opening up a door to see another door would be pretty freaky...
posted by mikelieman at 9:05 AM on September 23, 2011


OMG WON'T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN
posted by Melismata at 9:08 AM on September 23, 2011


Halloween is for little kids, but it's also for scares spending a month on an insane outfit and then getting blind drunk and making out with strangers just like every holiday worth a damn.
posted by The Whelk at 9:11 AM on September 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


spending a month on an insane outfit and then getting blind drunk and making out with strangers just like every holiday worth a damn.

Which is pretty much why we're not inviting you to Thanksgiving again this year...
posted by mikelieman at 9:18 AM on September 23, 2011 [6 favorites]


That's why I'll only ever visit The Whelk during August. It's the only time I know it's safe.
posted by hippybear at 9:43 AM on September 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


A farmer goes to the veterinarian with an unusual complaint: A family of birds has decided to build a nest in his horse's mane, and now the eggs have hatched and the baby birds are making all kinds of noise and the horse can't get any sleep.

The veterinarian says, "I've heard of this before. What you do is get some brewer's yeast and sprinkle it over the nest. The birds won't be hurt, but they'll all fly away and leave your horse alone."

So the farmer gets some brewer's yeast and sprinkles it over the nest, and sure enough the birds immediately get up and fly off into the distance. The farmer goes back to the veterinarian to say thanks, and asks how the vet knew that would work.

The vet shrugs and says, "Yeast is yeast, and nest is nest, and never the mane shall tweet."
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:52 AM on September 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Runes, that happened with my uncle and nephew about 15-16 years ago, except in the case of this haunted house, there was *no* warning that it was going to get scary, *no* chance to leave before the scary stuff went down.

So my uncle (who is the nicest, sweetest man alive) went to one of the local TV stations. They went to check it out, and of course by then they had the warnings and the chances to leave, so my uncle looked like an overprotective, helicopter parent quack.
posted by Lucinda at 9:53 AM on September 23, 2011


Kind of what Runes said. After my adventure of a few years ago there are certain themes I kind of need to stay away from in the area of Halloween decor. So, we've decided to go with spiders. The big one is about 20 feet across. I have dreams of animating him someday, but there always seems to be something else important to do in front of that project so what we have, honestly, looks like I stuck 8 really big pipe cleaners (pieces of PVC pipe) into a really big sponge (PVC, wood, fake fur) and painted the whole thing one shade of brown.

So anyhow, one year mom drops some some kids off up the block and they run down towards our house (where stuff is obviously going on) and then, all of a sudden, one of the kids sees the giant spider and absolutely looses it. His brother tried to drag him forward but eventually just gives up.

There's a weird emotional sense when this happens - part of you feels bad for the kid, part of you thinks, "Wow, I wasn't happy with how he turned out, but I guess he's OK!", and part of you thinks, "Hmmm, time for a little CBT?" (Meanwhile I have to work to keep kids from running up th the animation scarecrow - including kids who screamed when he lunged at them - because being whacked in the face by one of the pneumatically driven arms would probably leave a mark.)
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 12:07 PM on September 23, 2011


Grarrr Spellchecker! ANIMATRONIC SCARECROW!
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 12:13 PM on September 23, 2011


I'd get dressed up in a full head-covering mask, oversized clothes stuffed with newspaper, big gloves and shoes, and park myself in a chair on the porch. I'd sit there with a bowl of candy in my lap and a sign around my neck saying "we're not home, please take ONE piece of candy." Then I'd stay perfectly still until some kid came up to get his candy...and I'd grab his arm.

Man, when I saw this thread, I planned on posting about this sort of thing... As the thing that I absolutely hated most about Halloween.

There'd be something in the yard, or on the porch, or by the door that looked like a scarecrow/dead body/monster. And you never knew if it was a person who was going to jump up and scream at you, or if it was just a dummy. I never understood why people did that. I never understood why it was supposed to be a 'fun' thing.

I had severe trust issues, as a child. I was a hurt, lonely, frightened kid. I'm sure normal kids probably get a kick out of it. It disturbed me, though, and made the whole holiday way less fun for me.
posted by meese at 10:06 PM on September 24, 2011


There'd be something in the yard, or on the porch, or by the door that looked like a scarecrow/dead body/monster. And you never knew if it was a person who was going to jump up and scream at you, or if it was just a dummy. I never understood why people did that. I never understood why it was supposed to be a 'fun' thing.

The notion that Halloween is supposed to be "fun" is pretty much a modern conceit.

If you're going to go back to the origins of the holiday, it's the night when the veil between the worlds is the thinnest, and beings from either side can cross over to places they really shouldn't be. Living people could be lost into the netherworld, and being from outside our plane of existence could interact with the living for whatever purpose they require.

Either you were celebrating that night and taking advantage of the powers it afforded, or you were working charms and hoping that nothing untoward happened.

Yes, I know it's all mumblety-jumble nonsense, but in pre-enlightenment days, it was taken pretty seriously.

So, why would people enact the kind of trick you outline above on others on such a night? To teach the lesson that shadows and darkness and things which you cannot clearly make out might contain danger. That the danger might be of a supernatural kind only helps to underscore the need for caution and to help illustrate that sometimes curiosity and temptation are things better left passed by than investigated or indulged.

Always remember -- in some countries, St. Nick comes around with his friend Krampus. We're just too much of a sissy nation to deal with the dark side of most holidays.
posted by hippybear at 8:19 PM on September 25, 2011


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