Took my tiny child with me to the Halloween store. Walked in and immediately realized it would be a terrible mistake.
They had those jumpscare machine things everywhere, lots of spooky noise machines, scary looking animatronic things, crazy decorations, just the whole 9 yards and then some. I immediately went to turn around and leave when I heard a noise coming from my arms.
My one year old child who gets scared if we cough.... was laughing.
She makes this precious “eee!” sound and starts vibrating when she sees something she really likes, usually an animal or a balloon, and she points right at the big zombie thing by the door and does that. I carry her in past a huge 10 ft tall Pennywise inflatable, and she smacks me to tell me to stop so she can look. She ponders him for a moment, and his glowing light-up eyes, then points at his hand and shouts “BEEM!” Which is her word for “balloon.” She made us stand there under Pennywise for at least 3 minutes, which is a really long time for a one-year-old.
Then, she begs to get down, so I let her loose and she just books it all over the store. Finds the creepy demonic looking babies and shouts “BABY!” then gets this confused look on her face and tries to wipe the “dirt” off their faces. Decides it’s not worth it, goes and picks up a severed hand decoration, hands it to me and says “hand.” Yes, my dear, it is a hand. And yes, that severed foot has “toes,” you’re very right.
Finds the wigs, runs down the aisle shouting “hair! hair!” and grabbing her own sparse little headfuzz so hard I think she’s going to rip it all out. Then she found the speaker in the wall that was blaring Monster Mash and she demanded I pick her up so we could “DANSSSE”. But she got distracted by the big spider decorations, which she christened as dogs by running toward them and barking.
She ran up and down the aisles of costumes touching the fabric and making her little “tss tss tss” giggle that she does when she’s having Much Too Good a Time. Every so often she’d stop, look back to make sure I was there, and point at something and vibrate with her aggressive “EEEE!”
A man turned a corner wearing one of the creepy latex masks. He immediately started apologizing to me, saying “I’m so sorry, I’m looking for my friend, I don’t want to scare her.” Meanwhile my child is standing there looking up at him with the most confused look on her face. Not scared, just confused, like he is so dumb and she can’t figure out why he would want to make that stupid face for so long. But he rounds another corner all hunched over, she flaps her arms and sighs, and takes off to go scream at the creepy lawn decorations.
When it was time to go, nothing could convince her to come to me willingly, so I had to promise her one last look at the balloon man while I picked her up against her will. Pennywise placated her, and we left the store with a smile on her chubby little cheeks. She demanded we wait and watch the big inflatable-flailing-arm-tube-man out front, the one that was bright orange and had a jack-o-lantern face, and she bounced and wiggled and danced in my arms despite its fan being louder than the loud motorcycles that scare her on our walks. She waved bye-bye to it as we left for the car.
Basically, that was the cutest thing that’s ever happened to me in my life, and it’s so crazy how so many things are culturally taught and kids are just... immune to that. All she saw was bright colors and things she recognized and could name, in a place she could explore and touch. She has no concept of clowns being scary or zombies being A Thing or what constitutes “creepy” and “spooky” and “gross.” To her, a severed arm with gore hanging out the end doesn’t represent pain or violence, it’s just “arm,” and it’s got some weird stuff on the end that’s funny colors. They’re just things, there’s no context for it.
The world is weird and beautiful and it’s so cool to see it through the eyes of someone who is so New to this planet and hasn’t been influenced by society and culture yet.
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ID: a tweet by _grimm @ExileGrimm reading, What's the dumbest beliefs you had as a child?
When I was 4-5 I swore that bird seeds grew birds, thus the name. When my parents asked me to prove it to them, I planted a pile of bird seeds.
The next day there were loads of birds where I planted the seeds, showing I was right.”
A second tweet reads, “I wondered why my parents still objected to this idea after I proved it worked, so I thought they were hiding this secret from me because they were worried I'd grow a massive flock of birds and they'd not be able to tell me what to do.” / end id
Link to original tweet
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Children caused landlords headache. Fearing street violence, many parents in crime-ridden neighborhoods kept their children locked inside. Children cooped up in small apartments used the curtains for superhero capes; flushed toys down the toilet; and drove up the water bill. They could test positive for lead poisoning, which could bring a pricey abatement order. They could come under the supervision of Child Protective Services, whose caseworkers inspected families' apartments for unsanitary or dangerous code violations. Teenagers could attract the attention of the police.
It was an old tradition: landlords barring children from their properties. In the competitive postwar housing market of the late 1940s, landlords regularly turned away families with children and evicted tenants who got pregnant. This was evident in letters mothers wrote when applying for public housing. "At present," one wrote, "I am living in an unheated attic room with a one-year-old baby. . . . Everywhere I go the landlords don't want children. I also have a ten-year-old boy. . . . I can't keep him with me because the landlady objects to children. Is there any way that you can help me to get an unfurnished room, apartment, or even an old barn? . . . I can't go on living like this because I am on the verge of doing something desperate." Another mother wrote, "My children are now sick and losing weight. . . . I have tried, begged, and pleaded for another place [it's] always 'too late' or 'sorry, no children.'" Another wrote, "The lady where I am rooming put two of my children out about three weeks ago and don't want me to let them come back. . . . If I could get a garage I would take it."
When Congress passed the Fair Housing Act in 1968, it did not consider families with children a protected class, allowing landlords to continue openly turning them away or evicting them. Some placed costly restrictions on large families, charging 'children-damage deposits' in addition to standard rental fees. One Washington, DC, development required tenants with no children to put down a $150 security deposit but charged families with children a $450 deposit plus a monthly surcharge of $50 per child. In 1980, HUD commissioned a nationwide study to assess the magnitude of the problem and found that only 1 in 4 rental units was available to families without restrictions. Eight years late, Congress finally outlawed housing discrimination against children and families, but as Pam found out, the practice remained widespread. Families with children were turned away in as many as 7 in 10 housing searches.
--Matthew Desmond, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (2016)
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