For weeks, I’d heard about the Bay City Hay Maze, a reoccurring feature to the city every Halloween. I’d never been in the past years, so I was full of curiosity. At least until I heard it was a “horror” piece. Haunted and all.
Now, I’m no punk (…okay maybe I am…), but I just don’t really do horror that well. Oh don’t get me wrong, in OOC, I can brace it if I must, but being who I am and the level of immersion I live in while logged on, I can’t always remind my IC self that we aren’t that that weary of horror things. Sounds complicated, but it was it is!
Being a mother cultivates this difficulty to break from character, as the last thing I would ever do is subject my 9 year old son to unexplained and unwarranted horror sites UNLESS I can find a smart way to spin it.
Here is where the concept of “playing pretend” helps me.
Now, it may take away the fun for those who love horror to keep reading as I find ways to justify how a haunted maze is Kid friendly, so look away now if you don’t want the sting taken out of it.
First things first, my son genuinely doesn’t like dark or scary things. This fits in perfectly with me as I enjoy shielding him from such things also, like any RL mom would for her RL son. As I like the realness of my connection with Taelor and draw parallels with RL parental behavior, I am no different from a RL mom in this sense.
Simultaneously, I like to make sure he doesn’t miss out on the fun the city has to offer, so I like to get creative with things.
Now, I’ve gotten really good at making up stories to ease him into hard situations, but I’m not good enough to justify taking him to the Falmouth Hotel. I’m not that good and quite frankly, I’ve yet to work up the nerve to go there myself on an exploratory mission.
But today, I was determined to visit the Hay Maze and see just how it can be categorized “Mommy Approved” so that I can prepare him for a visit.
It helps that on arrival, you’re met with some very squishy pumpkins that you get to smash. They made the cutest noise and despite being messy, it was a lot of fun to smash. That certainly lightened my weariness from taking on the challenge.
In addition, I was fortunate enough to bump into the prettiest looking bed-sheeted “ghost” ever. Little Mari was running about yelling “boo” at new comers. Now, she’s not a fixture there, but fingers crossed you’ll see her and that certainly made me laugh.
Tip #1: Laughing at a haunted site is a good way to help your child feel he/she is NOT at a haunted site.
Tip #2: Do not mention that the Maze is Haunted. Be prepared to justify everything as fake while keeping a grin on your face and be determined to show no fear. Children get scared when their parents are scared – Fact.
So, I walked into the maze after ignoring what was clearly a grave site to the left of the entrance.
I committed to my mind that when I visit with Taelor (my son), I would walk on his left side, that way his view will be shielded from the grave site. If he doesn’t see it, he won’t ask about it. If he doesn’t ask, then I won’t have to make up a story to keep from mentioning grave sites and dead people. Seems like a good plan.
Tip #3: Always try to think ahead of your kids. They ask questions. If you’re not ready for them to get an answer you know they can’t handle hearing, keep them from being propelled into asking in the first place.
I was met with an awesome sign at the entrance with tips on what windlight to use. I found that the recommended windlight created by Torley Linden provides a MUCH more bearable experience than just plain midnight.
Despite it’s name “TOR HORROR”, I really do recommend it as it still gave off enough light to see and not feel overwhelmed with fear. Taelor will either do this using the recommended TOR windlight or plain ol’ day light. My little princess just can not handle “scaries”, he’ll have nightmares for days.
Tip #4: Test out recommendations in advance, so that you can recommend to your child the best option. You know what your child likes and enjoys. So no one better than to scope out the scene and recommend something that would enhance their experience while within the boundaries of what they can handle.
I gotta tell you, the maze on its own? It was fantastic. Had turns and corners and dead ends. It was a well made Maze and in fact, when you look in aerial view, it spells the word “BAY CITY”. I just love it!
Tip #5: Cheating is not ideal. What’s the point of doing a maze if you plan on cheating. Fear can drive a child to run to camming about just to get out. Find ways to engage your child and keep him/her present and involved.
The confusion of finding ones way through the puzzle was the least of ones problems in this maze. There where haunt… umm… I mean… “pretend scary” things!
Here are a list of things and the explanations I took away from each that leads me to grant it the “Mommy Approval”.
Actual situation: Very scary to see a spider of any size let alone a giant one with red eyes. I ran out of there before I could figure out whether it’d attack or not.
Story told to deflect a scared child: When you see this spider, explain that it is clearly battery operated and plastic. The red eyes are like lights so you can see them in the dark.
Actual situation: Creepy music! Enough said.
Story told to deflect a scared child: This is old circus music from a special piano called an organ. It only is a different kind of musical sound, different does not mean “bad”.
Actual situation: Cobwebs usually mean you’re in a place that’s rarely entered. It conveys a sense that you shouldn’t really be in such a place if it’s been clearly abandoned.
Story told to deflect a scared child: They are made of cotton candy! Explain how they are for the spiders only and how eating them, like any other food left outside, isn’t advisable. That way you won’t have a child trying to eat the cobwebs, which as we both know, are not made of cotton candy. *laughs*
Actual situation: Rats usually gather around things you can eat. They eat rot, and they can often convey a sense that uncovered dead bodies are being consumed by the rats that hang around these spooky territories.
Story told to deflect a scared child: Like the spiders, these are toys that are battery operated. The squeaky sounds are recordings and they really aren’t of any bother. As you explain, make sure you’re walking away from them. You wouldn’t want a rabbi-ed rat running up to you to prove you wrong and traumatize your child in the process.
Actual situation: Ghosts are the worst. The fact that some people just wouldn’t go to hell or heaven, but instead stick around to spook people, is very distressing to both child and adults.
Story told to deflect a scared child: Point to strings in the air that are clearly not there, but convince your child that they are there. Shield them from any ghosts that come too close, but otherwise, insist that they are hanging pieces of ghost shaped paper that float about, and the noises they make are coming from the same recorder that’s playing the eerie music. Your child should be nervous enough that they’d WANT to believe anything you tell them at this point.
After seeing all of this, I made it through to the exit where, again, that cute little ghostly girl popped up in her bed-sheet. It was great to have made it and I highly recommend you visit here!
So there you have it. My ideas on how you can spin it so that your child can experience the joys of the Bay City Hay Maze without giving them nightmares that keep you up at night for the next week.
It was absolutely fun for me going through to scrutinize and preparing myself to take Taelor.
Lying is bad, but sometimes you have to put a very creative and extreme positive spin on things if you have a child as beautifully delicate as mine. 😀 It’s either that or he won’t get to see the Hay Maze and that just cannot happen! It’s worth going!
Now that I have my game plan, stay tuned for when I DO take him. Hopefully my plan will work and the tips I’ve suggested will work for you too.