Fear and hair

I put my pre-school age kids in front of Finding Nemo (or “Lost Fish” as they call it) one day and it was not a success. There were too many teeth, I think.


Enter the World

Your world was safe, cocooned, defined
It was out and underlined
My arms your home
My hair your own
Image sound the world awash with colours friendly noises hugs and hair

You stood up, stepped and turned away
Charged into a world of play
A joke, a game,
You learned your name
Detach break free you ran off tugging me along by painful strands of hair

But with the wonder also crept in fears
New awareness came with tears
New lines to cross
With joy comes loss
Vast scenes and spaces gripping terror of a world without the comfort of my hair

Still I am always there
When dangers send you crying
you come flying to me cooking up some dish
you wail of “sad” and mourn for “fish”
unnamed undefined yet fear of dying
brings you crying hand still reaching
screeching for the soothing comfort
of my hair.

(c) Judith Kingston, 2014


I read this poem at the Virtual Open Mic Night on 25 March 2014 – watch it here!



21 thoughts on “Fear and hair

  1. My three-year-old hides behind the couch when she’s watching something “scary”. And also, she doesn’t like “Peter Pan” because of the first scene where the dad gets really grumpy. She finds him scary!

  2. Great poem and I particularly love the line before the poem, this being what any self-respecting parent would do, quite right 😉

    We haven’t reached the fear in response to films yet, but that may just be because we haven’t watched one since “Lost fish” at Christmas. I’d forgotten but you’re right that there can be a lot of peril in children’s films, I wonder why?

    • judithkingston says:

      Actually, I think a bit of peril is necessary in a film, even for children. You can’t just bumble along like in your average toddler TV show, where the problem of the day is overcommitting yourself or not packing enough snacks for your picnic. For a compelling feature length story line, you need to take the main characters out of their comfort zone by removing their support structures (usually their parents) and then they need to face real adversity in their quest to fulfil their ultimate goal (fetch something, achieve something, get somewhere, defeat something etc.) Unless there is a real and believable threat to them achieving the goal, unless the stakes are high, the story isn’t interesting enough for a feature length film.

      Thus endeth my lecture.

  3. Disney can be DARK but it’s true, for high’s you need lows. I’d avoid The Princess and the Frog for now though….

    This did make me laugh though because we have a whole catalogue of ‘family’ films that for one reason or another (my 3 kids fears) we can’t watch altogether.

  4. It’s so true, with age comes increasing awareness and I agree, avoid The Princess and the Frog for now. Actually Disney excel at quite dark moments being resolved eventually, but of course littlies don’t know about the resolution when they’re in the midst of it. My daughter can get very upset at films and only recently enjoyed Ratatouille aged 7-previous attempts were disastrous! My son is not remotely interested in films-he wants to ‘do stuff’ not watch it 🙂

  5. maddy@writingbubble says:

    Love the poem!
    Funnily enough my younger son (4) has started to struggle with some films now his ability to feel empathy has properly kicked in. He recently couldn’t bear to watch the bit in WALL – E where the spaceship tips and all the babies are slipping all over the floor. His eyes filled with tears and he kept saying someone needed to look after the babies. He first watched the film 18 months ago without a problem. I guess they respond to films differently at different ages depending on what they’re aware of.

    • judithkingston says:

      Oh, that’s heartbreaking! Someone’s got to look after the babies! I think you’re right and it will just keep evolving and there will be different things they struggle with at different ages as they become more aware of the world. Gosh, life is traumatic isn’t it!!

  6. Wonderful poem!
    Disney films are always traumatic, but as others have said you need the lows for the highs. They make me cry every time! My oldest has never been particularly phased by ‘scary movies’, but my 4yo is quite sensitive and there are a few things he won’t watch (but of course, he is often being subjected to what the 7yo wants to watch!). I’d agree on the Princess and the Frog, avoid for now 🙂 #Prose4T

    • judithkingston says:

      Disney really is very good at tugging at the old heart strings! I wonder how my two will turn out – I still suspect perhaps the Boy will be the more sensitive of the two, but it is a little early still to tell.

  7. sarahmo3w says:

    What a lovely poem. My kids were all scared of Disney films too. It’s only when you see them through the eyes of a small child you realise how dark and scary the endless ‘mild peril’ can be. My daughter went to the cinema to see the final Harry Potter (12) rating when she was 5, but at 8 still can’t watch Polar Express – or even look at the box. It terrifies her!

  8. Love the poem, J, esp the introductory line to it…..’what would any self respecting parent do?”! My daughter was similar, and still aged 9 does have a high sensitivity to violence in films, like her mum (i’ve never grown out of that one) yet my 7yr old bro loves scary stuff and thinks it ‘awesome’ and ‘cool’. So we’re often having to wrestle/weigh up what is acceptable for him and what is not (I defer to my OH on this one as he has the appetite for these things). Overall, consider it a good thing, even if trying, as it shows they are sensitive and full of empathy – wonderful adults in the making! But maybe your two are still a bit young for films? There are some feature length ‘films’ of things like Angelina Ballerina that are about an hour that they might be able to cope with…that is, if YOU can cope with them too!

    • judithkingston says:

      You are right, of course, and they are still a bit too young for films – especially the Girl. I’m sure you can munch popcorn while watching episodes of the Numberjacks and they will taste just as nice! Maybe not Angelina though…

  9. ‘The soothing comfort of my hair’…

    Made me smile 🙂 It’s strange and wonderful when theory of mind kicks in, isn’t it, when fear and joy etc are no longer just instinctive but reasoned. Can be tough going for parent and child, but a huge milestone on the road to independence (Prose4T etc)

  10. Those Disney films have much to answer for!! Grace was the same. She used to watch Dr Who at the age of 3 without a care in the world…now she is scared, but does still watch! Beautiful poem – it fits so well with your explanation. Thank you for linking to Prose for Thought x

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