Though the creature comes in many forms its distinguishing characteristics are unmistakable. The lack of heartbeat or other vital signs, a diminished intelligence, an inability to reason or use tools; clumsy, violent and ungainly movements, a lack of empathy or mercy toward their victims, a hunger for human flesh and a ravenous and unrelenting instinct to convert all living things into one of them. That’s right, I’m talking about Republicans. I’m obviously joking; everybody knows that Republicans can use tools. No, what I’m talking about are Zombies.
When Jack was only three years old I let him watch Shaun of the Dead with me. Shaun of the Dead is a British zombie flick based around a character named Shaun, a thirty-something attempting to get some kind of focus in his life all while he has to survive an apocalyptic uprising of zombies. Despite being tongue-in-cheek there are many scenes that are entirely inappropriate for children; yet in a decision that lacked any parenting wisdom I allowed him to watch the movie in its entirety.
You would think that the movie would have given him nightmares, but instead it sparked a fascination with all things Zombie.
You would think that the movie would have given him nightmares, but instead we have since re-watched it countless times and even recreate certain scenes together. (Dibba Dibba Dibba Da Dibba Da Di)
You would think that the movie would have given him nightmares, but instead he knows that the only way to stop a zombie is to destroy the brain or to vote them out of office.
You would think that the movie would have given him nightmares, but instead he knows that the only way to turn into a Zombie is to be bitten by a Zombie or to have your annual household income increased to over $100,000. In fact, just recently I was impressed by his inquisitive level of reasoning when he asked, “If to become a Zombie you have to be bitten by a Zombie then where did the first Zombie come from?” I didn’t have the heart to tell them that the first Zombies were just former members of the Whig party.
You would think that the movie would have given him nightmares, but when World War Z occurs and the undead descend upon us my son will be one of the few equipped to not only stay alive, but to lead an army of survivors to victory over the flesh-hungry ghouls.
You would think that the movie would have given him nightmares and you would be right. About a week ago he had a night terror in which he screamed and cried so hard that it took me and Kathleen 15 minutes to calm him down and get him back to sleep. The next morning he said he didn’t remember waking up, but that he did have a nightmare about Zombies. In his dream he said there were Zombies in the house and he was trying to hit them in the head with his black aluminum baseball bat, but one of the Zombies grabbed it out of his hand and then bit Mommy.
As I listened to him recount his dream, my stomach turned because it was my fault that he had a dream directed by George Romero and voiced over by Vincent Price. It was my fault that he had a dream in which he couldn’t save his mother from a Zombie bite. It was my fault that instead of dreaming about using his baseball bat to crush fastballs for game-winning homeruns, he was having dreams about using his baseball bat to crush the skulls of reanimated corpses.
I tried to make him laugh by asking him if they turned mommy into a Mombie, and he said without smiling, “No Daddy, she was turned into a Zombie.”
I worry so much about being a good father to both Jack and Adam, about teaching them the right things and raising them to be compassionate, confident and fearless; but sometimes I forget that they are just children. Impressionable, vulnerable, innocent little boys who need me to protect them from the nightmares that too quickly creep into their heads without my help, not to put baseball bats in their hands and demand they protect themselves from the monsters that I let in.