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Foie Gras Children and Slender Men

I have always been an avid reader.

I would lose myself in book after book when I was a child. They fed my soul, took me places even my dreams could not conjure.

I absorbed every word – they painted vivid, breathtaking, amazing and sometimes frightening pictures for me.

I was rewarded with a rich vocabulary and a very intense imagination.

I drew pictures of the characters, dressed up like some of the protagonists, reenacted scenes with my dolls and my stuffed animals …

But never, ever did I confuse them with reality.

Having said that, of course, I learned from Aesop – I knew enough to summarize that his fables were teaching me things that I could and probably should be applying to ‘real life’.

But I didn’t expect that if I happened across a white rabbit and followed him, that I would be transported to another world.

I didn’t believe that there was a porridge pot that would produce endless amounts of the oats.

I knew magic beans, glass slippers and talking toads lived only in the pages of my books.

Even the fictional stories with real people, and real possibilities I knew to be entertainment. Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series was among my favorites when I was little.

 

enid blyton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No adult supervision, friends, lighthouses, ginger beer, cream buns, adventure AND a dog?! I was in!!!

But not really.  I knew how to separate a fictional adventure that a fictional person was having – from reality.

We have that capability to make amazing mud pies – and the sensibility not to eat them.

(Ok, to be fair, I have tried dirt.)

We dressed up like royalty,  but didn’t expect a carriage to pull up and whisk us away to our castle when playtime ended.

We had sword fights with sticks and shot people with our fingers – and not once did it seem like a good idea to take that play to the next level.

So what’s changed?

 

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Not the movies.  We had A Clockwork Orange – Night of The Living Dead.

(And is it just me or does Nosferatu resemble Slender Man?)

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It’s certainly not the bad guys – they’ve always been.  Always will be.

And as for stories and monsters – they’ve always been there too.

The Grimm brothers offered our version of ‘creepy pasta’ type tales.

What’s changed?

In my opinion, copious amounts of unmonitored and uncensored access to it!

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The past couple of days, an internet horror meme named Slender Man has been in the news, blamed for an attempted murder by two 12-year-old girls.

Slender Man is responsible for an untold amount of jump scares – but attempted murder?

 

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Too often the blame falls to video games, horror movies and even music for today’s violence.

I do not agree with this.

I blame instant access to age inappropriate material.

Instant access to graphic images.

I blame the decrease of services for the mentally ill.

I blame the constant barrage of  ‘negative news’ desensitizing those already mentally fragile.  News stations vying for viewers via shock value.

And finally, yes, I blame ‘the parents’.

That’s such a broad accusation isn’t it??

I usually cringe when I hear it – so please know I shuddered when I typed it.

But I do hold parents responsible in general, because the internet is not going away!

If we don’t want our children becoming world-wide webbed foie gras geese – we have to monitor what’s feeding their developing minds!!!

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When I was raising my son, I put limits on what he was exposed to.

By no means was I ever a perfect mother, far from it, but I do think I did a lot of things right.

I knew what he was doing, who he was doing it with and where he was as much as I could.

I was a working mom, I couldn’t possibly know everything or be there every moment.

The computer was in a family area – he did not have one in his room.

I checked the search history and monitored what he was looking at as best I could.

He was read to and encouraged to read.

We talked.  We still do.  No topic was or is off-limits.

He was not allowed to play with toy guns when he was very little – I didn’t think pretending to shoot someone was funny.

Of course, he still pretended with sticks or his fingers – and that was fine, but I was not contributing to it – that was the point I needed to make.

He was taught that guns were to be taken seriously and respected.

Nic was not allowed to play any video games I did not believe he was mentally and emotionally ready for.

game ratings

Oh sure, I knew he was playing the games I wouldn’t allow in the house when spending the night at a friends.

Let him have that fleeting feeling he was getting away with something.

Every kid needs that too.

Because the lesson had already sunk in, the games were deemed inappropriate by the person raising him. He knew it.  You certainly don’t think you’re ‘getting away’ with doing the right thing.

Horror movies – nope. Graphic unneccesary violence – nope. Nudity? Sure, in measure.

I have a more European take on that having been raised in the UK.

In England, growing up, I would turn the dial past some boring old sex scene to find a show that interested me. Nudity and sex was natural – violence was edited.

Every child is curious of course, and it breaks my heart that probably my sons first sighting of a naked woman was on some porn site and not a boob shot in a movie or the full Monty in the center of a secreted Playboy.

It’s the total opposite here in the States.

God forbid you see a nipple, but a beheading? A fatal car crash? A slaughtered village full of people? “Put that on a loop!!”

If my son committed a horrific crime, would I hold a single genre responsible it?

No.

I would know that something was broken inside of him, or hadn’t grown properly to begin with.

I would know that he was not possessing that ability to filter fantasy or intense information in a healthy way.

And I would know that I, as his parent, obviously did not provide him with the adequate amount of discipline or tools he needed.

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Where can I get a Papal application?

Heard the news this morning that Pope Benedict XVI was resigning.  (Do you lose God points when you quit that post??)

First thought that came to my head was:

Good thing other people select the next person for the position.  Can you imagine applying for the job? 

Someone that knows you is bound to comment:

“See!  I TOLD you they thought they were holier than thou!”

holierthanthou

Broken or evil?

In the news was a story about a missing 10-year-old girl.  The news now tells us that a seventeen year old boy has been arrested in connection to the abduction and murder of that little girl.

The teens mother called the police and he turned himself in.  I know in my head and my soul that was the right thing for her to do, but for the life of me – can not imagine or begin to fathom her pain!

It makes me think of one of my favorite quotes by W.H. Auden

“Evil is unspectacular and always human, and shares our bed and eats at our own table”.

I then think of the definition of evil. Profound immorality, wickedness, and depravity, esp. when regarded as a supernatural force.

Are people who commit murder evil?  Or are they ill?  I’m not talking about self-defense, I’m talking about taking someones life intentionally for no apparent justifiable reason.

Each one of us is capable of murder. But we’re wired to NOT.

So what is happening when there’s nothing in your head, heart or soul that shouts “NO!”  And what must it be like to go through life that way?

I’m not excusing, justifying or siding with murderers, please don’t get me wrong!

But I struggle with this.  If someone is born without the ability to understand right from wrong,  void of the ability to empathize or sympathize and is capable of taking someones life  – aren’t they too victims?  Wired differently – from birth.

It boggles my mind.

When I’m in public, especially a large chain store – I wonder who just smiled at me, who just brushed past me.  I passively interact with hundreds of people, and among them, statistics dictate there MUST be a sampling of child molesters, rapists, murderers …  that man who held the door open for me, does he go home and beat his wife?

I drive to work and see children waiting at various bus stops to go to school and wonder which ones didn’t sleep well the night before due to abuse in the house.

Bullies.  Well, of course I hated them as a child.  But I know now they’re projecting their own pain onto others.

There’s just so much more than meets the eye.  Definitely a topic I probably shouldn’t dwell too much on.  But I am fascinated by human behavior.

What courage it took for that mother to turn her son in.  I don’t know if I could have done that.  I think a part of me would be in such denial – my first instinct would probably be to want to grab my ‘baby’ and run!  Run away with him and try to make him well!

She did the right thing.

My heart aches for that little 10-year-old girl and her family.

My heart aches for the confessed murders family.

But is it wrong that my heart also aches for that 17-year-old who can never undo the life changing horror he committed?