Costume Characters Just Made My Children Crazed

20 Apr

I know that people have the best times taking photos of their children with big costumed characters.   Not just the Easter bunny or Santa Claus, but also characters like clowns or at Disneyland and Universal Studios. This did not go over well in my family for several reasons.

First, since we are Jewish, I never took my children to have a photo with Santa or the Easter bunny. But that does not mean that we did not have encounters that shook us to the foundation. Second my daughter, and then my son, were petrified of costumed characters. Just seeing their oversized heads could start a squall! Finally, both of my children were shy.

When my daughter was three, we were walking though a mall’s lower level, a few days before Easter. Along came the Easter bunny and his helper. My daughter was the only child around, so the Easter bunny decided to walked over to say hello. Ad my daughter looked up, I noticed you could see a man’s face through the mouth in the costume.  I had a bad feeling.

My daughter started screaming, “The Easter Bunny ate someone!” Full out screaming. Needless to say the Easter bunny ran away as quick as he could, while I was left with a screaming traumatized child. True story. 28 years later. I still can hear her screams in my memory.

When she was young my daughter had panic attacks whenever she saw a clown. This was unfortunate, as her great-great Uncle Mike worked hard to make her a beautiful ceramic clown. It was lovely and colorful. However, she would not sleep at night with the clown in the room. I had to put it away, in another room. Eventually, the fear abated. But when she was small, clowns were an emphatic NO.

Our Santa experience was less stressful in some ways, but more in others. We have all seen and spoken to the many Santa’s who collect money for the Salvation Army.   We always put money into their collection pails whenever we could. And at first this created no problems. As long as they did not speak to her we were fine.  She would shyly walk up and drop the donation in the slot.

But when she was about six, she had an epiphany. “Mom,” she asked as we drove away from the mall, “How can there be so many Santas in one place?”

I was not thinking. I just told the truth. “Honey, there really is no such thing as Santa. He is a made up character. “ I immediately knew I had made a mistake. Her best friend was Greek Orthodox. Her quick response was, “I have to tell my friend.” That would not be good! OY! Dilemma of high magnitude!

Quickly I came up with an answer. “Wait. Not all Santa Claus’ are fakes. These are really Santa’s helpers. The real Santa Claus cannot do everything. So he has helpers.” Whew….that seemed to help. And I hope she never said anything.

With my son, I was no longer surprised by any fears.  I just avoided the malls during the heavy holiday season. Or at least I did not take my son there. But then came an experience I did not expect. When my daughter was 5 and my son was one, we went to Disney World. My parents came along. I expected a fun-filled adventure. But no!

I had booked a special Goofy breakfast with some of the Disney characters. But it did not go as planned. My son was petrified of all the big characters: No Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, or Donald for him. They could not come near him without screaming emanating from his little body.


A breakthrough! My son allows the Dream Finder a high five as my daughter looks on.

We had a minor miracle in Epcot with Figment and the Dream Finder, when my son was three. Thank goodness the Dream Finder looked like a real person, without a big head. Figment, of course, was cute and adorable. My son and daughter came home with their own Figment plush toys.

But the fear does eventually end. Years later we went to Disney World again. My children were older and ready to meet all the characters. My son even got an autograph book for all the characters to sign. We still have it. He ran up to the characters and led the way to the autograph areas. I am glad the childhood fears are gone.

6 Responses to “Costume Characters Just Made My Children Crazed”

  1. Amy April 20, 2017 at 1:58 pm #

    My parents used the Santa’s helpers story also. I do wonder how children suspend disbelief for so long on Santa, the Easter Bunny, the tooth fairy, etc. I think many continue to pretend to believe long after they know better. Why not? There are presents, candy, and money coming if they keep their skepticism to themselves!

    I never had a fear of those characters nor did my kids. But my younger daughter was very shy and wouldn’t talk to them; she wasn’t afraid, just not interested!

    • zicharon April 20, 2017 at 2:04 pm #

      I think every child is different. My daughter was not afraid of Disney characters. Just clowns and the Easter Bunny.

      • Amy April 20, 2017 at 2:26 pm #

        I know that clowns are an issue for a lot of people, even adults. And yes—we are all different. Believe me, my kids had lots of other fears! For a short time our older daughter was afraid to go outside after she saw a helium balloon float away. She was convinced she would also. (She was three.)

      • zicharon April 20, 2017 at 3:01 pm #

        You never know what will create a fear!!

  2. thegenealogygirl April 25, 2017 at 9:37 pm #

    My oldest son figured out Santa when he was 7. We had a good talk about how fun it was to believe. I reminded him that his best friend Lexie was younger and still believed, and that his younger brother still believed. I encouraged him to be a good friend and brother and help them believe for as long as they could. My middle son was a firm believer until he was 12 because of that. But, none of my kids liked seeing Santa. They were scared until they were older.

    • zicharon April 25, 2017 at 10:00 pm #

      You just never know. Some children are fine.

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