My Toddler Might Grow Up To Be A Serial Killer: What Horror Films Have Taught Me
As an avid fan of the horror genre, I have – in the immortal words of Winston Zeddmore - “seen shit that would turn you white.” I have been watching horror films since I was nine years old and over the years have collected nuggets of wisdom which help me navigate my day-to-day existence, more so than you would think. (I think some of the greatest lessons have to be car-related – for example: Know how to drive a stick shift. Know how to change a tire. Never ever, under any circumstances, pick up a hitch-hiker. Simple!) Horror films are not only immensely entertaining, but watching them can also save your life if you observe and avoid classic terror scenarios. Of course, it is this way of thinking which lead me down the rabbit hole of horror logic resulting in my current theory that my beloved, first-born may be showing the signs of a future killer*. Much of her behavior is age-appropriate, but the combination of certain traits have convinced me that she may grow up with a penchant for lethal knife-wielding and a taste for human flesh. Let us examine the evidence, shall I?
- Cut You- There is nothing unusual about my daughter’s interest in scissors and cutting per se, however it should be noted that when my child was given her first plastic cleaver (it went with her kitchen set, she just happened to gravitate towards the most menacing-looking cutlery) she immediately dragged it across my forearm and – her eyes alight with gleam – said, ”CUT YOU!” Since then she has attempted several hair-cuts on her friends and successfully sheared her own coif twice, along with a most unfortunate household plant. She lives by the blade, this one.
- The Oven- It is normal for a child to imitate familiar adult behaviors so when my blessed off-spring took an interest in my cooking routines, it was decided that she would receive her very own play oven. Did she emulate her mommy and prepare tasty, pretend, baked goods? No, no she did not. But would you care to know what she did do? She stripped every single doll that she owned naked and placed them inside the oven. All of them. She had a system, my daughter, and to disrupt this order in any way was to incur the wrath of The Furies, make no mistake of it. While this doesn’t necessarily point directly to Wee forging a career in making girl-skin-suits ala Buffalo Bill, it doesn’t rule it out either.
- Delighting in the Misfortune of Others – To be fair, Wee comes by this honestly, for I too have been known to laugh at the injured. I’m not proud of this, but it is my way. That said, my daughter’s very favorite game – much along the lines of Cut You – is Make You Cry! Nothing brings this child such pleasure as the wellspring of salty, hot tears – pretending to weep will suffice, in a pinch – but this kid craves your tears. She will kick, punch, tease, push her infant brother down the stairs, drink all your juice – whatever it takes - all for the satisfaction of making someone other than herself cry. Such a blatant display of sadism is generally a tell-tale sign that sinister things are afoot.
- The Collection – This final category is where things really come together, I think. Most horror film murderers like to keep a souvenir or two as a reminder of their malevolent activity and some even go so far as to keep a collection of sorts to chronicle their misadventures. Teeth, skin, hair, urine, blood, bones, etc. are all acceptable tokens for the serial killer - perverse keepsakes to memorialize the Precious Moments of a disturbed mind. What does this have to do with a seemingly innocent, three year old? Let me tell you. For the last few months I have been in the process of potty training my child. To facilitate this endeavor, her training potty has been moved to her room so that she may use it during nap times and such. One afternoon, post nap, I went to her room to collect her and suspected that some nasty business had gone down. There wasn’t any visible physical evidence, just a sixth sense on my part – plus the unmistakable odor of poop. I investigated the scene and queried her to no avail - a full ten minutes passed before I was able to ask The Right Question, which was, “what have you done with your poop?” My little darling flashed a high-beam smile at me before taking my hand and leading me to her toy oven. She opened the doors as if revealing the lost treasure of King Solomine’s mines and I took stock of the horror before me. Eight miniature teacups were meticulously placed inside the oven and each cup held a single, tiny turd.
“IT’S A PARTY!”** Squealed my precious Wee.
Friends, it goes without saying, this is NOT a party that you want to attend.
To this day, I don’t know how she did it without making a mess. I went through a vast array of mixed emotions before concluding that I was just going to have to put everything in a garbage bag, set the house on fire and walk away. Experts on child-rearing will tell you that this is normal behavior, will even go so far as to suggest that this kind of scat-play is a sign of creativity. But I know what I saw. My beautiful little girl decanted her own feces, placed it in a several, tiny serving dishes, stored them in the oven with the intention to serve poo souffle’s to me and her “guests”. I have seen this all before – the film is called Salo and it holds the the singular distinction of being the only movie ever to make me BARF just from the sight of it.
*Obviously I don’t really think that my lovely, kind-hearted, daughter is going to grow up and eat people’s faces. ( Though I am pretty sure most mother’s of killers have said the same about their children at some point or another.)
**Also, I don’t serve human shit at my parties. She didn’t model her hostessing flair after me, in case you were wondering.