Children Want to be Scared

November 25, 2016

Written by Capt McNeely

Georgia Division ZADF Twitter: @ZADF_ORG

Image result for scared child

Halloween, the REAL most wonderful time of the year, has passed.  In the midst of all the ghosts, goblins, clowns, and princesses that braved their way up my driveway and into my horror-themed garage to get their fun-sized chocolate bar, I had a realization…kids want to be scared.  Mine was the only house in the small town that was, well…a little overkill (no pun intended) decorated for the holiday.  Severed heads gory enough to draw stink-eyed stares and comments from neighbors, blood spatter, eerie candles, a smoke machine and various other ornamentation to set the mood of terror covered the area where nearly a hundred children came for their treat.

My decorations were not new; neither was my highly elaborate costume.  The new part was the fact that after about 45 minutes of trick-or-treating almost every costumed-visitor or their accompanying parents mentioned that kids all over were making comments like: “we were told that we have to come to the scary house.” Most of them slowly made their way into the fog cautiously waiting with tentative excitement for what was to come.  But the epiphany came when I realized that many kids were coming back!  (and not for the candy…it wasn’t that good).   They came back to feel that discomfort; they came back to be scared.

I have thought a lot about this since Halloween and it has become my belief that we are born curious and intrigued about things that frighten us…and then it is siphoned out of us.  Kids dance in public, they sing in public, they make friends easily…they enjoy being out of their comfort zone…right up until the moment that they learn what a comfort zone is.  We are taught to avoid discomfort or fear.  We are taught that Halloween should be goofy, smiling vampires rather than legitimate eeriness.  We are taught, among other things, to avoid the macabre and the darkness.

Well, my horror-loving friends, we are simply fulfilling that childhood need to be uncomfortable.  It is how we grow, how we create, how we find out who we really are.  I’m not a psychiatrist and I am not a scholar, but I do believe that, although scary things aren’t going to cure anxiety and shyness, I think we are simply following our nature to seek terror and seek that spine tingling and hair raising that seeps out from unknown shadows.  Join me.

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