Facing Fear*

As a parent, I've changed so much since my first child was born.   She never watched television until after she was two years old.   She didn't have her first potato chip until after she was two and she said, "Water" whenever she saw a McDonald's sign because that was all she had ever had there.   When Child 2 came along, I told the pediatrician, "I've done everything wrong with this one."

"No," he answered.   "You did what you had to do to survive!"   I really love our pediatrician.

When we moved into this house a year ago, the kids started having real problems sleeping through the night--or even falling asleep--because they were accustomed to our bedroom being right down the hall from theirs.  Now, our room is on the other side of the house.   I became even more protective of what I considered their "sensitive" natures.

Recently, I discovered  BBC's Desert Island Discs podcasts.    This radio program has been broadcast since 1942.   On each program a notable person--scientist, actor, singer, politician, religious leader, author, etc...-- is interviewed.   They are asked to bring their list of the ten songs they would take with them on a desert island.   They are also told they would be given the Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare.   Then, they have to tell what one other book and one luxury item they would take to the island.   The interviews are so well done and the conversations are fascinating.   It's interesting to hear why the person chooses a particular song and it usually leads to a great story from his past.

One day, whilst cleaning the house, I was listening to several of these podcasts.   One in particular made me stop my work and sit down to listen more closely.   The notable being interviewed was Mark Gatiss.   He's one of my favorite creative Brits.   He's a writer and actor.   He and Steven Moffat are part of the success story that is the recent Doctor Who series re-boot and the BBC series Sherlock.   He has written episodes of Sherlock and he portrays Sherlock's brother, Mycroft, as part of a long list of accomplishments.

I think all British men should dress like Mark Gatiss, Stephen Fry, Martin Freeman :)

This particular interview took place before the Sherlock series and the interviewer spent a great deal of time on the topic of the Doctor Who series and the types of television/movies Mr. Gatiss watched as a child.    Doctor Who is a brilliant science fiction series.   I knew it was a favourite of children in Great Britain, but I just worried it was too intense--too scary--for my children.   I thought the fear factor outweighed the morals--such as self-sacrifice, respect for all life and justice--which can be seen throughout the series.  

As I listened to Gatiss speak of the "scary" shows he watched on television, I considered what he was saying.   He spoke of how important he felt it was for children to face fear and overcome it in a safe manner, such as through media or an experience such as an amusement park ride.   I thought about that a great amount of time over the following week.   Then, I sat down and watched an episode of Doctor Who.   I decided Gatiss might be on to something, so I let the kids watch an episode, together as a family.

They were scared at first.   We would pause and talk about costumes and special effects.   We talked about the science fiction/fantasy setting of the series.   We talked about moral moves made by the characters.   We laughed at all the wonderful British humour.   It's a very funny show, especially those episodes where Scottish actor, David Tennant, plays the Doctor.   He changes form from time to time--you know, what with being a time lord and all.

After that first episode, we watched a few more.   And something began to happen.   The kids were starting to sleep through the night.   Emmeline was initiating conversations with me where you could tell she was proud of herself.   "Mama, I was scared when we watched that first episode."   "At night, I don't get as scared because I know if I can watch Doctor Who without being scared, I don't have to be afraid at night."   Clare would explain to Thomas that those were just costumes.   "I KNOW that," he answered.

So, now my kids are knowledgeable about things like the Tardis and sonic screwdrivers.   They love to pretend our hall coat closet is Doctor Who's Tardis and they loudly announce the place and time at which they have just arrived.    Rose is their favorite companion.   It's great play and it's SO BRITISH!   And they are still sleeping through the night.

"And this has been 'Effective Parenting' with Mark Gattis..."

 *Post 1 of 2--Next post "Avengers Assemble: Super Heroes"


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