I have a confession to make. Please don't tell child protective services after reading the following.
For some reason, my 4-year old son is obsessed with zombies. There's a plastic figure of a zombie crawling out of the ground which he always wants to look at in the "SkyMall" catalog when we take him on an airplane.
Both he and my 6-year old daughter ask me to chase them (slowly) around the house while I pretend to be a "person-eating zombie."
So, in an example of extremely bad parenting, last night I brought them over to the computer and put on a YouTube video clip from the classic horror movie "Night of the Living Dead." We watched several minutes of zombies chasing and biting people, and people defending themselves with firearms and blowtorches. Then we watched a video -- which my kids thought was an actual documentary -- of how to identify and kill zombies. (FYI, zombies don't play basketball, don't like fire, and to kill one you hit it in the head -- not in the knees -- with a baseball bat.)
I did explain to my kids, who were then getting a little worried, that since zombies don't wear jackets there are not zombies up the in the Colorado mountains where we live. I explained that jacketless zombies live in warm places like California and Texas and Florida, to which my daughter, always concerned for the welfare of others, asked "are the people OK?" I explained that everyone in California has a baseball bat.
My daughter, always thinking, asked whether zombies could get to our house during the summer, when they wouldn't need jackets. I said that they move too slowly for that, and that they would not be able to get out of the state before winter, so they don't come to the mountains during any time of the year. I also pointed out that they are not very coordinated, so would not be able to climb the rocks and steep hills to get to our house. She was not entirely convinced.
I explained that if either of my kids was bitten by a zombie, I would take them very quickly to the California Zombie Hospital, where a doctor would give the victim two shots, then wrap the bite with magic powder which would keep the victim from turning into a zombie himself or herself. I explained that it takes about 3 days to turn into a zombie, so we'd have plenty of time to get to the hospital. My son nodded and said something that indicated modest relief and complete understanding of the medical implications of a zombie bite.
Perhaps you will not be surprised to hear that when I took them to bed, both kids then asked me to leave lights on in their bathrooms (with some of the light coming into their bedrooms) and to close their window shades.
An hour later, my 4-year old came up and said he wanted to sleep upstairs on the couch...which I let him do.
Although the whole process was quite amusing, I may have to tell the kids that zombies aren't real, at least if I want them (and my wife and I) to get a decent night's sleep.
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