A while back I read an interesting article at The Spiders Den on the interesting topic of Child Vampires. Fellow blogger Lady of Spiders talked about the scarcity of children vampires in contemporary literary works, and it’s virtual non-existence in historical folklore, and made the observation that this was likely due to the ideal of the “Innocent” child being anathema to that of the “evil” Vampire.
She went further to provide a few other examples of child vampires in contemporary movies and books. I thought the topic would make for a good post, because I think that there was a whole lot more to talk about than simply the effects historical stereotypes at work. This unusual case, that of the vampiric child, actually raised some very good questions about good and evil, how they are generally identified and how that process applies to children.
I’ll start with the more ostensibly clear cut ideal of the “evil” monster. Or to use a more specific example, a Vampire. Historically, Vampires were considered inherently evil creatures. They needed drink the blood of humans to survive, they partied with creatures of the night (creatures supposedly many orders of magnitude worse than the kind you’d find in a red light district), and generally engaged in all sorts of unsavory practices.
Now to me, the real question here is this. Was their reported malevolence a result of their need for human blood to survive? The type of creatures they hung out with? Or was it because of the brutality with which they slaughtered humans? It seems, to me at least, that only the last one, the blatant disregard for the life and suffering of others, would really qualify any of them as monsters. But here’s the rub.
There have been many, entirely human creatures throughout history, who have done far worse, for much less. As monsters go, I think *they* are the real monsters. However, because they are clearly human, their descriptions are often times painted by the eyes of the writer. So much so that sometimes they are rarely described as the horrific creatures they truly are in the history books. But I digress.
I thought it was an interesting post because this way of thinking runs counter one of my most deeply held beliefs. That there is no such thing as either a “good” or “bad” child. Vampiric or not, a child is simply a child. It may have a genetic predisposition to certain emotional states of mind, such as agitation, nervousness, fear, anger, etc. These, however, are just tendencies. No more, no less. I do not believe that they are any inherent indicator as to whether a child will be be good or bad. I would, in general, look to it’s guardian if I had to make that determination.
Unless it happens to be Jesus Christ reborn, (or the Anti-Christ), born with the full knowledge of good and evil, as provided by the apple in the garden of eden, a child has no more knowledge of what is evil or good behavior than it knows how to blow it’s own nose. What a child does, is learn. It learns from what it is surrounded with, and from it’s experiences. If it is taught, or sees bad things, it will learn bad things. Conversely if it is surrounded by good, it will learn good. It is that simple. It is we, those that populate a child’s environment, that determine it’s benevolence or malevolence, and not the child itself.
Does this mean that a childs genotype is of no consequence to it’s disposition? No, Of course not. The nature of a child who is genetically predisposed to, for instance, hyperactivity, might be more likely to become a bad seed, but not because of it’s nature, but rather as a result of being doomed to constant harassment and rebuke by it’s parents, as a by product of it’s nature. This will have negative effects on it’s intellectual and psychological development, and ultimately how it views the world. Its outlook, and reaction to life, will be tainted by what it has been taught by it’s parents actions, not by it’s inherent hyperactivity.
It is all about what the child is taught. Negative breeds negative, and positive breeds positive. The parent of a hyperactive child must learn to deal with, and channel that hyperactivity in positive ways. No small order, to be sure, but in my opinion, it is the most important aspect of dealing with so called “problem” children. They generally aren’t evil, they mostly need structure and guidance. And parents with healthy imaginations, a coping mechanism that does not tune the child out or beat them down, and lots, and lots, and lots, and lots, of patience goes a long way.
Did I mention patience? Ok, just checking. Can’t say that enough. Granted human beings are human beings, and few parents have the infinite patience required to weather the seemingly inexhaustible supply of vampiric, patience sapping, negative energy that a toublesome child can emit.
But I think it is important that parents understand the difference between what makes a child being bad, and just being difficult, and adjust their reactions accordingly. Too many times, I’ve seen children who were doing nothing wrong, penalized simply for being hyper, or loud, or whatever it is that gets on their parents nerves. Sometimes I see them punished with no explanation, no chance to explain themselves, no logical rational for why they are being persecuted.
These actions can have very, very damaging psychological effect on a child. It is this flux, this lack of structure, that often leads to the generalized frustration, anger, malevolence and hatred that many troubled children suffer. And more often than not, it is actually the parents constant negative reactions that turn them into the monsters that they become, not video games, not movies, nor any inherent predisposition to evil or wickedness.
I have said this many a time, but it bears repeating again and again. A parent is the single most influential person in a childs life. They have the ability to mess them up in ways that can be dreamed of only by highly trained, third world, non Geneva convention restricted war interrogation experts, or can be more effective than an experienced psychologist, at teaching them how to properly respond to any give situation or stimuli.
To put this in perspective, what this means is that, even if such a thing as a vampiric child existed, with proper parenting, I believe you could teach it to control it’s blood sucking urges, and how to respect it’s food. Notwithstanding the fact that no such creatures exist, I’m telling you… It’s doable…
I’d suggest you wear some steel neck protection before you begin, but still…