Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Of Ogres and New Beginnings

Ok, after all this talk of self mutilation and my (and every other mom's) worries about what, exactly, teenagers are going to find out there, my daughter unintentionally lightened the mood. She's not returning to school until mid-September due to construction on her building, so she has had plenty of time to think about what fifth grade might have in store.

"Are you scared?" Christopher asked her at dinner. "'Cause fifth grade stinks. It's when I first starting really hating school."

"I'm only scared of one thing," Emma, who is quite used to the drama of teen speak, said.

"Boys," Philip offered, "the ones who push."

"Nope. Worse."

We all looked up. Emma has had issues with boys in general, and the ones who push specifically. This has been her number one pet peeve since kindergarten.

"So what are you afraid of?" I asked, trying not to sound worried (you can imagine what was going through my head at that exact moment).

"Ogres," she responded matter-of-factly. "I am really, really scared of them."

"New Jersey doesn't have a whole lot of ogres," I reassured her. "At least, I've never seen one. I think they hate beaches."

Emma sighed. "Mom, it's not like you know who they are. They hide it. Remember that story we read, about the women who were witches but only in secret?"

(We had read the Roald Dahl story over the summer aptly titled, "The Witches")

"I remember."

"They can look just like you and me. Well," (and this really cracked her up), "not like ME, but maybe like you. That's the scary part. You just don't know who they are."

Ogres. I had almost forgotten about them.

When her brothers began smiling, Emma admonished them, "If you laugh at an ogre,or if you don't believe in them, they get mad, then they come after you first. I'm just going to walk right by them and not think anything. Nothing at all. I'm just going to go blank so they don't think anything when they see me. Then they can't get me."

At least she's got a plan.


Marcia said...

She sounds like she's got a really good imagination for fantasy. Yet -- there's more than fantasy going on. We read about the supernatural in our novels, and we hear about it in our religions, and we sort of buy it but don't really. Sometimes we've almost GOT to operate on the assumption some of it's true. It would seem too naive or narrow not to.

Anne Spollen said...

Right, Marcia. I think there's a whole lot more around us than we might realize or know how to understand - yet.

I think for kids, the "ogre" (monsters and all the rest) are just fears they can't express. My personal ogre, right now, is the idea of her becoming her brothers' ages!

Mary Witzl said...

That Roald Dahl story really got to my kids -- especially the fact that the little boy never changed back into a boy, but remained a mouse, to die with his grandmother. And wasn't the witches' spit blue? Ewww.

But your little girl has a lovely, lively imagination, and how sweet that is! And no way do I let my feet get too close to my bed when I climb in at night, 'cause I KNOW what's under there when the lights are off!

Anne Spollen said...

Yes! Emma has a good vocab because she's the youngest and prefers the company of teenagers and adults. Sometimes because she listens to alternative rock music (as opposed to Hannah and the Jonas Brothers) and uses certain words, people assume she's doesn't have the usual kid terrors. But boy, does she ever...that story has really lingered, especially when one of my friends bought her the film version with Angelica Houston. She is also thoroughly terrified that the happy people who work at her school secretly tug their faces off at night to reveal their...fill in the blank.

But that's the power of good writing - it affects you after the story is done.

TerriRainer said...

Ogres...not something any of my kids have voiced concerns about...YET!

I remember being a child and afraid of ghosts. I didn't live in an old house, and I often played in the cemetery that was behind our house (a field seperated the two), but ONLY during the day.

I think it was all the "ghost stories" that were told around camp fires.

My kids aren't so much scared of them, as they don't want any around!

We lived in a house that was, shall we say, ACTIVE. And now they miss impressing their friends with cups flying off of counters, but closet doors no longer open on their own at night, which is a GOOD thing!

:) Terri

Anne Spollen said...

Emma has that kind of imagination. When a door opens, she looks at me and says, "It's ok, Mom, it's probably just a spirit looking for a friend."

But a house that was ACTIVE! You should write about that. So many of the teens we know are really interested in any kind of ghost, haunting, etc.