I have always had a very active imagination. As an adult I am able to channel it, talk about the things that scare me, and use the creativity to write. As a child, however, I was often haunted. Plagued by fears that would overwhelm me and, at times, make me terrified of going to sleep for fear of what I would see there. As an adult I have been equally tormented by nightmares, after violent incidences or at times of great stress, but my adult brain is able to understand, once awake, why it is happening and that it isn’t real. As a child you are not afforded that luxury. As a toddler it is even worse.
Miss Rose has started having nightmares. On Tuesday evening, before bed, we watched a family movie together, “The Land Before Time”. Both kids (and both adults…) love dinosaurs, and so the Don Bluth cartoon film was chosen and very well received.
Miss Rose did get scared, as SharpTooth crashed around the screen attacking the smaller dinosaurs she hid behind me, arms about my neck saying “Is scary, Mummy, is scary!” but for the most part was in excellent spirits and had a wonderful time.
At 3.30 in the morning, however, it all went wrong. She screamed, she cried, she hid. Normally if she wakes in the night she sneaks into our room, snuggles down next to me, and falls back to sleep before I’m even aware she’s there. This time she wouldn’t even get out of bed, she just wailed in misery. I ran to her, she screamed more. I brought her to our room and she curled in a ball and cried even more. With a lot of coaxing and firm assurances, she eventually settled down, had some water, and calmed down.
On Wednesday night, at 1.30 in the morning, more screams began. Again she wouldn’t get out of bed, this time screeches of “It’s scary!” echoeing out as I went into the room. I reassured her it’s not scary and Mummy is there, but she wouldn’t get out of bed. I lifeted her, and carried the trembling ball of toddler into our bed and snuggled her down but still she cried. Again, eventually, she had a drink of water and settled down to sleep. But fitfully, with kicking and wriggling. An unsettled sleep of someone upset.
Children take on board more than we realise. They understand more than they can say, they are affected by more than we know. Miss Rose has always loved dinosaurs, has several books and toys, and loves to make them roar, but seeing them in action and being dangerous and violent, even as a cartoon aimed at children, was a breaking point that I hadn’t seen coming.
From a young age, as soon as she became aware of the television being on, I was careful to prevent her from seeing things unsuitable for children. I knew she wouldn’t understand that she was seeing violence or nudity, at five months she would have no concept of such things, but I do firmly believe that things get into the brain and stay there. It is our duty to protect them from images that can cause damage and upset to their developing brains. Fortunately I don’t believe “The Land Before Time” has caused long term, psychological damage to my little girl, but I do feel guilty for not anticipating it, not leaving that film until she was a little bit older.
I know now. I know she’s not ready for things like that, and even though to us it’s only a kid’s movie, to her it was something to cause her distress. I will leave it and in time try again. There is no rush. My job is to protect her, and if that means I’m watching talking pigs for a while longer then so be it. Rather talking pigs than a crying, frightened child.
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Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!