My son has become afraid of a character in a video game. His name is Slenderman. From what I understand there is an iProduct game that has this guy as the main character.
Slenderman has no face and from what I understand if you look at him he will kill you. Someone told Brandon about the game. Brandon in turn asked my dad about it and they spent a few minutes Googling Slenderman one day. They watched some videos, and saw pictures. One of the pictures was this one:
If you look in the left hand corner you will see that Slenderman has been photoshopped into this vintage picture. Brandon completely freaked out because he now thinks this is real. If you Google it you will learn that people are now claiming Slenderman sightings all over the world and saying this guy has been around for years. Brandon didn't understand Photoshop so he just saw the old photos and believed it. Last Friday night neither of my kids would sleep. Brandon spent about two hours crying before bed and was so upset about this thing. I talked to him about it and tried to explain Photoshop to him. I pulled up pictures that had been photoshopped and showed him how easily Slenderman could be added into any picture. I promised him that he was safe and tried to get him to sleep. He and Codi both work up nine times that night crying. IT. WAS. AWFUL.
The next day was his birthday party and in the middle of the day Brandon totally melted down and started crying about this guy again. He was afraid. I reminded him about the Photoshop and we just went in circles. He wanted to know where someone got the original picture to even Photoshop in. This led to me pulling up a picture of Walt Disney drawing Mickey Mouse and explaining to Brandon that every comic or game starts as a drawing. He said Slenderman didn't look like a drawing he looked real. So I had to Google pictures of realistic drawings. I found some pictures like this:
I explained that this photo was drawn with nothing but colored pencils. I showed him how water scenes are filmed in movies, and that just because something seemed real it didn't always mean it was.
He was still afraid. He was still crying in bed, shaking and scared to close his eyes. Finally, I didn't know what else to do so I told him, "God would never create a Slenderman."
Let me stop there. I want to preface with this. I am not religious. I don't have a religion. But…I do believe there is something bigger then me. I do believe in God. I believe in angels and I believe in Heaven. My cousin once told me that I might be right, maybe there isn't a God, but what have I got to lose by believing there is? If I believed in God and it turned out he didn't exist I had nothing to lose, but if I believed and it turned out Heaven was real, well then I had everything to gain. I liked that thought. My husband also believes in God. I would say the pivotal moment in my life would be after three failed IUI attempts at having a baby, and a year of trying, that less then a week after saying my first ever prayer and asking God to give me a child, that I got pregnant. On my own, with no more fertility treatments. That is when I realized, that perhaps I was wrong and it was a coincidence or perhaps I was right and since I finally stepped up and asked for help, I was finally given help.
My husband and I made the choice that we would never force religion on our children. He is Catholic and I'm…just a believer. Our choice was to explain God to them, take them to a church once in a while that didn't force religion to you but centered around teaching kids about God, and also teaching them life lessons. From there they could choose to believe anything they wanted. This also means that I don't want anyone talking negatively about religion to them. I don't want people putting God down, or calling bullshit on it all, or asking them questions that make them question their beliefs. I don't want anyone to judge them for their beliefs.
Right now Brandon believes in God. He also believes in angels. He even believes in ghosts. That day when I talked to him about God he visibly relaxed.
He asked me a million questions, "why did God create dinosaurs?" I answered them all wrong, "because he was bored and wanted to watch something cool for a few thousand years."
"Why did he create man?" "Well he got tired of watching the dinosaurs so he created people. First he created land. Then he created sun, then he got tired of being hot all the time so he created night. After that he thought the man was lonely so he created a woman friend. When they got hungry he created plants and animals for them to eat."
"How does he create them?" Uhhhh? "Well that's a secret buddy, it's something no one really knows, some people just think that he holds up his hands and says, let there be lions and a lion appears."
He accepted all of my answers. We talked about angels. We talked about my family and his guardian angels. He liked that, he liked knowing that if Slenderman was going to get him, that his angels would stop him. We even talked about how his puppy that died was now a puppy guardian angel. We laughed about how if someone tried to sneak past his guardian angels that Sparky his old puppy would bark and bark and jump around so the angels knew, and he would growl and scare off the bad ghosts or angels. Brandon laughed and liked that idea. The dog guardian angel was his favorite solution of all the solutions. I told him that God would never create something like Slenderman. That he totally made snakes and spiders but Slendermen and zombies…never. He slept after that.
Last night Brandon got a little bit scared again. I came in his room and we talked it out. Then my husband took his cross off from around his neck and gave it to Brandon to wear. He told him it would help protect him. Brandon slept after that.
Later that night my husband and I talked about getting the boys crosses. My husbands cross is actually a cross on a ring that he wears on a chain. We decided to find one like that for the boys. The best one we found turned out to be a purity ring so I veto'd that. Then we found one that said, "man of God." I had to be honest and tell my husband I didn't think that was a good idea. I knew there were people in my life who would see the word God and pick on Brandon for it. They would try and tell him God wasn't real, and try and bring him down. I can't have that happen because right now, Brandon is choosing to believe in God and he is choosing to let it help him. I don't want anyone to discourage him.
Today while I was waiting for swimming lessons to start I found the perfect ring to put on a chain for both boys:
It simply says, "Fear Not." I thought it was exactly perfect. It is manly. It has the cross to make Brandon feel safe, and the words couldn't be more perfectly chosen. Plus there is no outward mention of God, Jesus or religion so no one could try and discourage him. I took a screen shot of the ring, and I was so proud of my discovery and what I was able to do to help Brandon that I wanted to post it on Facebook.
That is where I ran into a problem. I realized that I couldn't post it. I couldn't post it because there are a number of people on my Facebook right now who keep posting anti religion things. They keep posting about how they hate having religion shoved in their face and are tired of reading about tit. I couldn't post it because the people who are religious would probably condemn me for the answers I gave Brandon about God and the dinosaurs. I couldn't post it because I know people would probably judge how I handled the situation or parented Brandon. I couldn't post it because I was sure someone would make fun of me for believing in God.
I've been having a bit of a battle with Facebook lately. The people who CONSTANTLY post anti religion stuff are CONSTANTLY posting atheist hateful posts about religion. Even as a person who doesn't believe in one religion I am very very offended by some of this stuff. Religion is sacred to people and I find it so rude to bash something that means so much to a person. If you don't want to read the religious stuff skip past it. But imagine if my eight year old who was finally able to sleep for two nights because of God read one of those anti God hateful religious posts. What if someones pure hatred and rudeness took away his comfort? What if their hatred made him question his new found safety net? I'll admit I get a little annoyed at Facebook posts that are all religion all the time but I get annoyed at posts that are all politics all the time, or all football all the time. I'm just so bothered that people are so offended by something that comforts my son they feel like they have to make fun of it and trash it. You don't believe in God, fine…but I would never ever ever post something calling you an awful piece of shit person for posting it. In fact until today I've never posted little E-cards trashing all of the atheist posts on my feed. I don't belittle people for boasting how non religious they are. Because it is not my place. If I don't want to read it I can skip it.
That's what my issue is. When did Facebook become a place I should be afraid of what I post? I don't talk much about the gym on there because I see all of the Ecards that say "unless you fell off the treadmill and fell on your face no one wants to hear about your workout." I do check in at the gym and I have my own reason for that, but I don't talk about fitness or my struggle as often as I want because clearly people are offended by people who work out.
I don't post much about my struggles with depression because there are all kinds of people who think bi-polar is bullshit and don't want to hear about it. There are also alllll those people who think they are so much worse off then me and don't want to read about my silly little problems.
I don't post much about Brandons peanut allergy because that seems to really just piss off everyone.
I've never posted about politics because people seem to think that if I say I support Obama that gives them the right to judge me and tell me exactly why I'm wrong.
How is it that I am too afraid of being judged to post what is actually on my mind anymore?
It feels like my Facebook feed is two things, hate, and jokes. Half of my feed is people just ranting about something they hate, or why their "something" is better or more right. The other half is nothing but E-cards.
If I pray about something and it comes to fruition I can't even post a thank you to God because that is offensive to non religious people. Never mind they have no problem loading my feed with anti religious bullshit.
People have no issue posting racist, awful hate filled political posts, dead animals that were hunted or just killed, hatefully charged remarks about women and so on, for me to read, yet if I post it I'm the bad guy.
What have we come to, that I can't even post to my Facebook about how I'm helping my son overcome his fear with religion and show a picture of the great find I got, without fear of backlash saddens me.
The good part about blogging is that if you don't like me you can click out. You don't have to keep me in your feed reader, you never have to read me again. But Facebook doesn't have that option. You can't filter posts to only show the nice. The only way to get around it is to unfriend a person. That is a harsh solution that just causes more conflict. I've done well up until now at not letting it get to me. I've done well at being the bigger person and just skipping the posts that break my heart, or sadden me.
But today, when I realized I couldn't even post a joyous event on my own Facebook that was just too much. I think it's time to clean house on Facebook. Keep those people that are mostly positive. Get rid of the people who breed hate and see if it doesn't make my day just a little bit happier.
For now though, I will take comfort in knowing that I can come here, to my blog and tell you all about my sons fear, his new belief in God, and my ridiculous response as to why God created dinosaurs.
End of soapbox!