The Kid: Mom, I've been talking to my friends at school about something that I don't think you want me to be talking about.
Me: Hm, well, that sounds like something you should probably tell me more about. What have you guys been discussing?
The Kid: What happens in the fourth and fifth Harry Potter.
Me: Oh, well that's ok. Bub, it's not that I don't want you to talk about Harry Potter. It's just that some of it's pretty scary for you to be watching.
The Kid: But I just need to know, Mom. I just really, really need to know.
We had, up to that point, had a house-ban on the latter movies. But something in his tone cracked my resolve. He just needed to know.
Also, Harry Potter holds a special place in my heart, in part, because I got to live through the books coming out. Unlike so many other series of my childhood, I couldn't inhale the whole thing in a few days. The debating theories and guessing and wondering between books was such fun for me, and I didn't want his little friends to ruin that for him by revealing latter plot points before he could experience them through the books or, at the least, the movies.
So, I relented. I sat down with him and we watched Goblet of Fire one day when he was sick last week.
By the time we got to the graveyard scene, I was already beginning to doubt the wisdom of my decision. He covered his whole face with a blanket, peering out through a single, tiny hole and jumping every time Voldemort moved.
Me: We can stop this if it's too much, bub. Really, I can turn it off.
The Kid: No, no...I want to know.
And then there was bedtime.
Sweet Husband: You need to go to sleep now.
The Kid (in the most plaintive, teary voice ever): I'm just so scared. I'm so scared that I can't close my eyes.
The pitfalls of having an imagination, it's a problem I know well. I can remember feeling the same way after a babysitter let me watch The Seventh Sign. Like I'd rather let my eyeballs dry up and blow away then close them, because if I did the apocalypse was sure to come.
In the end, I cured my nighttime fears with more stories. I'd sit up and read until I feel asleep on top of my book, purposely transporting my imagination into a different world as a fortress against the scary one. It probably wasn't the greatest way of coping--I would be sooo tired at school the next day--but it wasn't the worst either.
Unfortunately, the Kid isn't at that level of independent reading yet, so we've had to endure a few nights of him crawling into bed with us (or us crawling into bed with him) for comfort instead. While it is something he'll have to get over eventually, I remember my own fears too much not to be sympathetic. And, since it's half my fault for letting him watch the darned thing, I suppose that I, too, should bear some of the consequences.
But, we both agree, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is going to wait awhile. Friends at school spouting off spoilers or not, he's just not ready.
Do you remember the first movie you watched that really terrified you? How did you get over it?