Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The debbil *will* get you

I was quite appalled when a friend visited over Easter. You would be too, if you knew him ;)

But in particular, I was freaked ALL THE WAY OUT by the way he said the following to his 3 year old son as they were preparing to leave:

Come on, if we don't get back in time the devil will be there and he'll get us.

To be fair, the kid didn't noticably react, so perhaps I'm stupidly over sensitive, but it quite upset me. When I was a kid, my parents told me that the devil was real. We had a book with a really scary picture of the devil and I can still remember how frightened I was that the devil would get me.

Let me put that in perspective. I don't think I ever really believed in the devil or in god or father christmas or any such thing. Even at age 3 or 4 I remember a vague understanding of some kind of contract between me and my parents where we pretended these things were true and I recognised somehow that this was a different kind of pretending than when we were playing games. My parents are sincerely religious but I could always tell that when they were talking about god stuff. There was just a different air about them when they talked about it. They seemed to hold themselves to different standards and speak and move in a different way when they spoke about god. I knew there was a rabbit away somewhere, but I wasn't old enough to understand it. I did what any kid would do, which is quickly learn to play the game. Since I mentioned father christmas, let's extend the analogy a little. I pretended to believe in father christmas because if I didn't, I thought I'd get no presents. My logic was not impeccable, but I was 3. Or 4. I accept my limitations as a toddler.

I accepted christianity for the same reason. I'm not sure I ever really believed in these beings but (and there's your child abuse argument right there) I was desperate to play along and pretend they were really real so I could get the presents. See what I did there?

Anyway, my point is that even though I didn't really completely believe in the devil, I was frightened of him. Really, genuinely frightened of him. We lived in an old house miles away from a streetlight which was in the process of slowly falling down, so made some interesting noises. Damn fucking right I was frightened of the devil I didn't really believe in.

To this day I can remember that fear. I can almost taste it. The fear was *very* real, even though the belief wasn't. Nearly forty years later, I can still remember that fear as though it were yesterday, even though I never really believed in the devil in the first place.

Is that anything to do to a child?

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