Thursday, February 28, 2008

Spooky stories

Ever had those parent moments when you suddenly see your home, children, and family through someone else's eyes and think, "Hm. Maybe that's not normal after all"?

O had a class presentation this morning in which he told the rest of the class and other parents about the things he's learned this term. You know: the 6-multiplication facts, the days of the week in Arabic, how to measure distance on an atlas. Then he read a story he had written, one I had already read and thought, "My, he's creative. Good for him." It was called "The Groglin Grange Vampire."

Before I get to the plot of the story, let me just say that O has been fascinated with "spooky stories" since he was in preschool and would gather his friends around them to try to scare them. I realized early on, however, that he likes to do the scaring, not be scared. I realized this when I tried singing The Kingston Trio's "With Her Head Tucked underneath Her Arm" to him. Oh, come on, it's a great singalong song:

In the tower of London lodges life.
The ghost of Ann Boleyn walks they declare.
For Ann Boleyn was once King Henry's wife
Uuntil he had the headsman bob her hair.
Oh, yes, he did her wrong long years ago.
And she comes up at night to tell him so...

With her head tucked underneath her arm,
She walks the bloody tower.
With her head tucked underneath her arm
At the midnight hour.

It has several more verses, but he didn't let me get past the first before he ran out of the room crying. I was merely trying to continue my own family's tradition of scaring children: spooky songs and ghost stories you promise are true.

So when O stood up in front of the class to read the story, I thought nothing of it. Until I noticed some of the parents looking wide-eyed at each other. Then I listened more closely to the story. It was about a boy whose parents leave him to go shopping. While they're gone, he and his friends are attacked by a vampire. The vampire then creates lots of bats who turn into even more vampires. Then the boy starts beating them down with a metal bat. Then he has his friends go gather garlic while he paints bread to look like bloody birds. The bats all swoop back down and then the garlic makes them sleepy. While they're knocked out, he can finish killing the main vampire by putting an electric drill through his heart. Killing the head guy gets rid of the others. The parents come home, the boy is safe, and all is well. (Don't try stealing the idea; it's copyrighted.)

Right when he got to the bread-painted-to-look-like-bloody-birds part, the woman in front of me turned to her husband and gave him a look that I'm pretty sure said, "We need to withdraw our daughter from this school. Immediately." Now, this woman had just served haggis pies to the class, and in my opinion, no one who serves a class of unsuspecting 8- and 9-year-olds sheep innards masked in a flaky crust should be looking shocked about a few fake bloody birds.

Now, what the morning has taught me is that maybe not all children obsess over vampires and horror stories quite like O does. But it also taught me that there's no time like the present to teach him the Lizzie Borden song:

About a maid, I'll sing a song, rikkiti, tikkiti, tin.
About a maid, I'll sing a song, who did not have her family long.
Not only did she do them wrong,
But she did every one of them in, them in. She did every one of them in.

You're all wondering how fast you can come up with a good reason for a moratorium on all future play dates with my children, aren't you?


Brigid said...

I think his story is awesome. What was the head vampire's name? :-P

I think people overreact too easily nowadays. Horror aside, the kid was protecting his home and his family. That's a very different theme from a kid mowing down his friends with a shotgun. Gore doesn't equal unbalanced.

(And I'm proud of him for putting together such a tight horror story too--I love the part about painting bread to make it look like bloody birds!)

Shankar said...

And I thought he was only a footballer!