Around here, someone is always in the bathtub pretending to be Ariel.
My girls have always loved the Disney version of The Little Mermaid. We have Barbie mermaids, Playmobil mermaids, My Little Pony mermaids (perhaps those are classified as sea-horses), mermaid shirts, mermaid books … you get the idea.
Now, my girls don’t scare very easily. They love to play outside in the dark, run through the woods and go fishing with creepy crawly things. They love to watch shows like River Monsters, Man vs. Wild and Shark Week. They don’t blink an eye when learning about mummification or Medusa or the Chimera.
So the other night when my husband let them watch Mermaids: The Body Found, a “pseudo-documentary,” he figured it was a pretty safe bet because it was on Animal Planet, for Pete’s sake. Come to find out, he should’ve boycotted the whole show. We are not talking Sebastian and Flounder stuff here.
Josie, my second oldest, is very matter-of-fact, logical and practically fearless. She watched the show and said, “Humph. Weird.” Then she went to sleep.
My oldest child, however, tends to let her imagination run away with her (I think it's hereditary.) Here is her running commentary during the show:
“This is kinda stupid. How can anybody believe that mermaids came from monkeys? Okay, mermaids do not do THAT. Who the heck would believe this? Okay, that is NOT what mermaids look like. This can NOT be for real. They are horrible! Oh, come on. What a dumb show. This isn't real. Daddy - is this real? Um… this isn't real, is it?”
No matter how stupid it was -- and it was pretty stupid -- the mermaids were still pretty scary, and Sadie couldn't get the picture of them out of her little head. She totally freaked herself out. She couldn't sleep for three nights. She turned on all the lights in the house (even the one in her closet) and she slept with a flashlight.
(She gets it from me. I did the same thing after watching Paranormal Activity.)
She came to my room over and over, nearly in tears and worrying herself sick. I didn't know what to do, since this sort of thing isn't usually an issue at our house.
So we read some nice, happy stories. We said prayers. We thought happy thoughts and sang happy songs. And still she couldn't sleep. As I sent her back to her room a third time she protested, “But Daddy says they're real!” (He didn't.) “Daddy is trying to scare me!” (He wasn't.)
Josie finally tromped downstairs and said, “Mommy. Something has got to be done. Sadie keeps poking me and saying, ‘Hey! Are you awake?’ and I say, ‘Well, I am NOW because you will not leave me alone!’ I have to get some sleep here!”
Since nothing else seemed to be working, I dug deep into my stockpile of parenting expertise and decided to tell Sadie a story about a nightmare I had when I was her age. I had to do something - she was starting to freak me out too! So I snuggled with her on my bed and rubbed her back and began in a soothing voice, “I know how you feel. Once I had a dream about these three creepy little green guys with horns that were hiding behind my bed….”
She smacked her forehead, covered her eyes with her hand and said, “MOM. You are not helping. AT ALL.”
So much for my parenting skills.
Finally, her very reasonable younger sister came up with a solution that my less logical (chicken) brain hadn’t thought of:
“Sadie, just THINK about it. We are a thousand miles from the ocean. Even if those creepy mermaids were real, which they are NOT, they could not get to our house. They do not have feet and they cannot possibly swim up our stairs.”
Sadie thought about this for a second, nodded slowly and went to bed.
Problem solved. Whew. Now we can both sleep.