And it's funny seeing the fears coming out in my kids. Yet there's an oddity or two that is curious to think of. First of all the two eldest (now 9 and 8) had very different ones. Charlie- the dreamer- has always been monsters and imaginary horrors until recently. He was terrified when he was 4 and we took him to a Halloween party- clung to me like a limpet all night (and I look like a vampire on my good days). He's been afraid of ghosts in his room, monsters outside, scarecrows on Dr Who, and weird stuff like being turned into a doll or converted into a drawing (all very Tales of the Unexpected). Of late, he's got more rational- now he's afraid of being abducted. Fair enough.
But the best one yet is the new bogeyman. Now I was never afraid of the bogeyman, because he was never on Dr Who and the comic by Raymond Briggs made him a green joke. But it would seem that there is a new bogeyman in town...and he's called the Hacker.
Sorry... The Hacker.
At first I thought it was a mad axeman chopping up naughty children and keeping them in jars in his basement in a Roald Dahl type fashion. But no, it's a cyber-fear. They all discuss it at school, when they talk about kids social network sites like Moshi Monsters and Club Penguin. The Hacker is a cyber-bogey man who creeps around the internet destroying your Moshi Monster. He can be anywhere, lurking on the fringes of your screen... My son came home one day and told me that a kid at school had seen him! Anticipating he would be an acne ridden Speed Metal fan with aviator shades on I questioned further. No, my lad says, he's been seen by his mate Jacob actually on Moshi Monsters. He's a being made from shadow that slunk across the screen and gave the Moshlings a good kicking.(Further questioning elucidated that this was the same Jacob who told Charlie his hand had been bitten off by a shark and replaced with a rubber one...).
The kids were freaked, avoiding going on the computer without me nearby (not a bad thing) and blaming any computer problem on the new bogeyman. They discussed him at school, worried about him at night and generally used him as an excuse not to go to sleep at lights out.
The Hacker! WTF. We are truly in a new age my friends when the scariest thing is an amorphous entity on the inter-net killing virtual pets. The kids think of dangerous viruses as ones that mash your hard drive up, not ones that give you meningitis. They fret about their on-line pets when they forget to feed them. It's bonkers.
Then I think about the hours I spend tapping away on computers at night. I think about all the tweets I send and jokes I share with people I've never really met. I think of hours of my life drained by the vampyric Facebook. And am I surprised by the new fears of my kids?
So I did the only thing I could. Told them that statistically they're far more likely to be run over by a car than abducted, eaten by monsters, blown up by a bomb, crash in an aeroplane, swallowed by a shark or rotted by the Plague.
Now they're afraid of cars.