Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Every Clown Is The Joker In Disguise

Here's another little nugget of joy that I have discovered in the PG, a Q&A feature on the subject of parenting. It's called "Parenting With 4 Kids", which maybe I ought to pay attention to, I thought, since I have four kids. Of course, 4 Kids is a pun on the words "for kids" and has nothing to do with the number of offspring in one family.

The question in this morning's PW4K is one that I can relate to wholeheartedly -- not as a parent, but as a former child:

My 3-year-old daughter has suddenly developed a fear of clowns. It almost sounds funny, but it's a big deal to her: before we go anywhere, she gets upset and needs to be reassured that no clowns will be there. What do we do?
What, indeed? When I was three years old, my mother took me for a ride on the Good Ship Lollipop, part of the Gateway Clipper Fleet. This has to be one of my earliest memories. It was a hot summer day. We met a friend of hers, a lady whose identity I could never remember for the life of me, and her 7-8 year old daughter. The boat ride was nice, as I recall, until the most hideous creature approaches me brandishing a weapon. The creature looked vaguely human, but had a rather baggy physique and a grotesque visage with giant red lips and a bulbous red nose. Its weapon was a shiny translucent disk at the end of a small white stick. I was too young to know whether or not I was ready to die, but I was absolutely certain that it was time to cry.

So I did. Lots and lots of tears ran down my cheeks because the beast refused to go away. The more I cried, the more it concerned itself with examining me. It then proceeded to speak English. "Whatsa matter? Does something scare him?" I desperately wanted to shout, Yes, you freak, something is scaring me and it is YOU! But I was so terrified that I could not breathe well enough to talk. I remember nothing more about the experience except that I was glad when it was over.

Perhaps that's why I was an avid follower of Batman comics books a few years later. The darknight detective makes a habit of being the snot out of a clown. It helped me over come my fears, and even left open the possibility that I might someday gain revenge by making a clown cry. I never have, but it would be sweet.

While some people may take exception to such a violent solution to overcoming one's fears of the painted Punchinello set, you have to admit that the columnist (who, wisely, is as anonymous as a blogger) made a couple of rather perverse suggestions on how to deal with the child's problem:

Try to provide an opportunity for your little girl to see someone familiar dressing up in clown makeup and then taking it off.
A clown strip show? This isn't a solution, it's a recipe for a lifetime of counseling. A few years ago, a friend of mine told me that he knew for certain that the apocalypse was nigh because someone had emailed him clown porn. He never knew that such a thing existed. Neither did I. I do know that I certainly wouldn't want anyone in clown makeup taking it off in front my little girl. Or doing this:

It might help to draw a picture of a clown with her, talking about each part of the picture as you draw it.
That must be how they come up with those kids' picture books that show words for different parts of the body. I think a stick figure would suffice, thank you very much.

She might also benefit from seeing other children having fun near clowns, but allow her to stand as far away as she wants.
Better yet, have her run as fast as she can, and don't stop until she gets to the police station. The officers will know what to do, and Commissioner Gordon might even make a call on the blinking red phone. My horrifying boat ride would have taken an awesome turn if Batman had shown up. It would have been the best boat ride EVER.

No comments: