she’s obsessed with dead people

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ummm, can i talk to you guys about this?

my daughter has this book memorized. it’s kinda freaking me out. she chose this book at the library almost 2 weeks ago. she disappeared into the stacks for a minute and then came running out, hair wild, yell-talking “WE HAVE TO GET THIS!” and shoved this in my face. how could i argue with that? she also demanded we get a book about day of the dead, halloween poems and beowulf.

yes, my daughter is reading 10th grade lit.

now, all these books have been extremely wonderful. she chose some more normal things like greek mythology, ali baba and the 40 thieves and something called the legend of ohio so i haven’t had to read only dark literature to her for the past two weeks but it brings me to something that has been haunting (literally but in that figurative way) our lives for the past 2.5 years.

my daughter is obsessed with dead people.

you may now understand why i try to push artistic outlets for her as much as i do. we’ve got to have some kind of direction for the macabre in this household or else she’s just going to turn into a goth and we all know that besides chris angel and dave navarro no goth person has ever had that much of a promising future. and i think those guys were kinda fringe anyway and yeah, those examples really just sum up my point.

an artist who is obsessed with dead people has a very promising future. all other interested parties just turn goth. so we’re pressing for artist here, people, or possibly mortician.

ghosts were her first repetitive subject for drawing. she broadened it to “dead guys” soon thereafter and i’ve been told numerous times over the years “ghosts and dead guys are my friends.”  does this also explain a little about the tent bed, too?

she used to tell me she saw them all the time. she would climb up on our toilet and look out the bathroom window in our old house, which was in a very old part of town, and say “yep, he’s there again today.”  i finally asked her about it after it had gone on for over a week and what she described to me was a man who had been hanged from a tree. she was only 2.5 years old and didn’t even know that was what she was describing so sometimes I tend to believe her on this. Oh, there was the time that it had been raining for almost a week straight and she then asked me “mom, why is his body all puffed up now?”  apparently ghost bodies react to current weather conditions.

what i’m getting at is that we’ve been walking this road to the dark arts for a few years now. (yes, that is a harry potter reference because our horizons have broadened to anything involving magic, wizardry, witches, mystical beings, fairies or the like. and hobbits. lots of hobbits.) i wish i could say i’m flabbergasted by it but i’m not because i was the same way when i was younger.

i once formed a club in my elementary school devoted to turning all the 3rd grade girls into witches. i would make my friends lie down on the ground while i conducted rituals to lift their souls out of their bodies and then we would all sit around and oooh and ahhh at their souls floating 6 feet above their bodies. the principal got word of our play and quickly put an end to my heyday as head of the waverly coven. when i was in the 9th grade the senior girls told me i dress like a witch. they thought they were dissing me but in my head i was all “score! finally…” {ps. this was due to a couple of times wearing a grey a-line, knee-length skirt with my combat boots. it was a boss match up but definitely not that witch-like. they were just THAT dumb.}

so i guess we’re just in this space where my daughter is really invested in something that might be termed “socially abnormal” but i’m going with the flow because i’ve been there. if she wants to check out books on mummies, ghosts, witches and goblins then i’m all for it because she’s really invested in learning about this subject matter. who am i to squash this? learning about mummies has broadened her horizons to egyptian culture. my 4-year-old knows how to pronounce paankehnamen. do you?  i’m sure someday she’s going to take it a little too far and start a small scale cult or something but at least i’ll have the previous life experience to understand and be cool about it instead of feeling i need to step in and direct her liferiver’s course.

and, as previously stated, i’m willing to do whatever it takes to keep her from going goth. since subversion is a main principle of that i’m thinking we’ll just keep this freak flag waving out there in the open.

solid plan. yep.

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9 thoughts on “she’s obsessed with dead people

  1. I think your daughter sounds gifted in several ways, wise beyond her years, and able to articulate her experiences, and it’s nice she has a mom who will nurture her to be herself and happy with that and who sounds pretty gifted herself. I am glad to see that you will let her be who she is, and I bet you will find that she grows into a brilliant, wise, gifted, non-goth, and happy adult who may be a healer, writer, poet, or all of the above plus more. I agree she will have to find how far she can go with various people since some are fine with her seeing their guides or deceased relatives with them and some aren’t, but she sounds amazing and someone I would love to know. She would get along wonderfully with my own kids, actually.

    • Thanks, Ruth Anne. I thank you for being perceptive because I, naturally, believe all those things about my daughter, as well. I try to remember that any of these natural proclivities are gifts bestowed from the universe and the best thing i can do is to foster them. glad to hear that you have some like-minded children.

      thanks for reading.

  2. oh, and i just wanted to say that the “goth-bashing” thing is really just my sense of humor. i don’t really have much exposure to that culture {except for the one kid in my high school who pierced his shoulder with a paper clip and ended up on maury povich. true story} so i have a more open mind & heart than in this post. call it a writing style, if you will.

    if she wants that to be her path then realistically my reaction would be something like anticipating my pap every year: squeamish and uncomfortable but surrendering to the fact that it will be good for me and not really that bad once i’m in the middle of it. it would definitely be a good thing for my wardrobe since a couple months ago i discovered i have not one plain black shirt.

    silver linings!

  3. Ha! I forgot about the antics at recess with the witches club! Oddly, I think I was more baffled by you dropping use of capitalization of first word, proper names etc. that started in third grade after you practiced proper process all through second and third. I got over it and it does not seem to have damaged your writing ability that you opt not to apply all rules of writing structure. And…all of those books made it into print and the child’s librarian has them in the collection so they are really not all that unusual. Anthropologists, forensics experts, morticians, pathologists…all sorts of professions draw from people who are interested in dead bodies. I agree that its not typical of most 4 year olds to gravitate to those topics but it makes more practical sense than obsessing over princesses and unicorns. Artist, scientist, medical professional…..who knows? I agree that if she’s curious about something and its available in the children’s library collection go for it. She will eventually learn there is no santa, easter bunny, hobbits or ghosts so fine to enjoy the imaginary folks while she can. Oh…and I goofed one year when you were in preschool and made you a witch outfit and then couple days before the preschool party found out they didnt allow ghosts, witches, skeletons or other “occult” representatives…so that’s how the pumpkin costume came to be. I don’t know whatever happened to the witch costume and we have pictures of you and I both dressed as witches on Halloween but it all worked out. I recall a kind of gothy looking black dress with a lace jacket or cape….you auditioned the song “Black Velvet” in it for a choir show try out……

  4. As I was playing around on facebook at work, I happened to see that a common friend commented on one of your posts. I decided to click on the link, and I’ve got to say – your blog is terrific! I had to stop and comment when I saw this entry though – your daughter’s obsession with death and dark things reminds me so much of myself when I was younger. I think it’s great that you’re encouraging her to explore this, and by doing so I think you’ll save her from becoming goth :) You’re stressing the education part of it, which takes away some of the shock and creepiness. My parents handled it the same way…I’m still interested in that stuff, but it turned into a big hobby rather than a profession (although I still think being a mortician would be more exciting than software testing at a large corporation most days!), and I’m not goth at all. So see…there’s hope :)

    • thanks beth! glad you think this crazy space is terrific. i’m glad to have more support on the encouragement of this interest. i too spent much of my childhood engrossed in the macabre and so i’m really kinda thrilled to have an excuse to revisit that part of my life through her. :)

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  7. Hello! I have some advice (I do hope you listen). First off, Don’t worry about your child turning into a “goth”. I started put much like that as well (not goth). I loved mummies, Ancient Egypt, embalming, etc… That was all I would write and read about in school. Later on, my interests became more medical and my mom would teach me what she learned in nursing school. I am latina so the Day of the Dead stuff doesn’t seem far off but please let me explain it. It is a time for celebration of family and remembering loved ones. The day does not have a morbid feel and is very festive. I now volunteer in a hospice home and hope to get a job there soon. I am very good at what I do. I also have my own online shop that supports my hobby of taxidermy. (All animals are ethically sourced). My most important point is that you have an opportunity to teach your child more about culture. Don’t be worried about this. Yes, it is a “strange” interest, but your child is not violent or creating any issues. Education is key and you can encourage her to learn a lot through the topics you have expressed worry over. She can explore cultures, medicine, science, biology… all of which are promising fields! Again, I wish you the best. Please don’t worry about this. If you would like to chat more, my email is alyssagualdani@gmail.com.

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