The Peculiar Children

Last week, my family and I watched Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, and we all loved it. We had time to watch a movie that night, maybe not a 2+ hour movie, but none of us were up too late. My wife didn't know anything about the movie, but I was at least somewhat familiar with the premise. My daughter had suggested that we watch it, and then insisted on it, as she has watched the trailer "thousands of times." This was news to my wife and me, but we believe it. We have Apple TV and one of the apps that comes standard is a Trailers app. It's quite nice to have, actually.

I think the movie is appropriate for children, dependent upon the children and their age. It's much darker and more scary than my wife and I had anticipated, and we kept asking them throughout the movie if it was going to be a problem, if they were going to have nightmares. We were continually reassured that everything was fine, that it was scary, and that they were really enjoying the movie. Okay, then, carry on, right? At a certain point, the damage is already done. Watching more of it doesn't really matter once they are thoroughly scarred from the experience. Game on.

Once the movie was over and it was time for everyone to go to bed, the older two kids began lamenting about how the movie scared them, and that they were going to have nightmares, and that they didn't know how they were going to sleep at all. I reassured them that it wasn't real and that it was just the result of someone's imagination. I said this and more, and I think it was comforting, but I know they were still spooked. Surely, Dad doesn't know everything. Surely, even Dad doesn't know what happens when he sleeps.

My daughter mentioned that she was going to wake me in the middle of the night if she was scared, you know, because it was all of my fault that I let her watch a movie she begged to watch. It was HER idea. I then told her, because I was working the next day that I would be sleeping in the basement. She does not like being in the basement alone when there is daylight. I don't think I'll have to worry about her waking me up down there. I DID tell her that if she wakes mom up in the middle of the night because she's scared that she might actually find a monster—Mom. With the toddler waking up at random times of the night on random days, my wife doesn't appreciate being woken up. I wouldn't either. She hasn't been able to sleep like a normal person since before she was pregnant with that villainous, sleep-thieving toddler.

The best part of the kids being scared, if there is a best part, is what my oldest son said to me while he was lamenting and getting ready for bed. I was going through the speech I give when the kids are spooked by something we have watched: It's not real. You could have stopped watching if you wanted to, and so on. I also try to relate with them and talk about my experience as a kid watching things that scared me. In the midst of my reassurances my oldest son said to me, "Come on Dad, I'm six!"

I had a brief chuckle at my son's comment. Soon after that moment, I started feeling a little guilty, like he knew better than me, an adult, that he shouldn't have watched the movie. I questioned whether or not letting them watch it was a good idea. I wondered what kind of hell they were going to live through that night. My son and daughter have separate bedrooms, and they both have nightlights. Still, there are always shadows. Underneath the bed is always a good place for monsters to hide. There they were laying in bed, alone, waiting for the carnage to come.

My daughter did wake up my wife at two a.m. that night. The most that usually comes of her waking us up at night is to tell us she's scared, then she goes back to bed. Because really, what are we ACTUALLY going to do about it? My daughter is a bit of a nighttime worrier. It's why we never tell her if there's a tornado warning or watch, or a pending thunderstorm, or rain, or wind, or the fact that weather even exists while we sleep. If she catches any word remotely related to weather that isn't sunshine, my wife and I are going to hear her talking non-stop about how the apocalypse has finally come, and we're all going to die.

I don't regret letting them watch the movie. I wouldn't be surprised if they watch it again. I think they are at a good age to start learning what they can and can't handle. Of course, my wife and I still play a big part as gatekeepers to what they're exposed to and will for quite a few years to come. Maybe next time they will think twice about a scary movie? Maybe, they will start to understand that it's just make-up and special effects, and there's no reason to be scared. Realistically, though, adults get spooked by movies and still watch them, anyway. It's what we humans do.

So far, no monsters have come.

Game on.

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