Okay, he's four years old.
Before anyone calls Child Protective Services, at least let me explain.
First of all, I didn't exactly start it or encourage it. The proximate cause was that my kids get into everything. And at some point my son dragged my old AD&D books out from a partially concealed shelf. I don't think he understands that the books constitute a game. Nor do I think he's necessarily aware that they are linked to "my game" or "the game" that I spend time writing on the computer. And oddly, it's my four-year-old daughter who likes the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon series. My son is scared to watch it.
He first discovered the 1977 Monster Manual. He actually wanted me to read it to him as a bedtime book. My daughter was also interested and followed along. Within a few days she could give a comprehensive discourse on how to best kill a vampire (and which methods were too gross). She thinks waiting for sunlight is the best idea.
My son was simply fascinated by all the different monsters and wanted to learn all about them. He has some speech pronunciation problems and so in a sort of rebellious style, enjoys pronouncing back weird monster names.
Then he discovered the Players Handbook.
Then he found the Fiend Folio.
As I implied, he is a somewhat sensitive child. Most live-action (as opposed to cartoon) science-fiction television shows frighten him. He'll want to watch Classic Star Trek but then run into the other room at the sight of the first monster. But for some reason he is not scared by the Fiend Folio. Or at least, he is not scared away. I think the fact that as horrifying as some of the monsters are, that they are not moving and thus are not real, is reassuring.
"What's that, Daddy?"
"What's that, Daddy?"
"Yes, it's pretty bad."
My daughter has a more clear-eyed attitude. During bedtime stories, I'll ask whether she wants to read a monster description or turn the page.
"No. No. No. No and No, Dad (that was for a page that contained five monsters). Turn the page."
"What about these?"
"No. No. And definitely No. Next page."
Last night my son lovingly placed the Monster Manual, Fiend Folio and Players Handbook in a sort of display on his bed.
I am actually not concerned by this. To me, it's the equivalent of fairy tales. But all three of those books have more extensive (and better) illustrations than their fairy tale books.
We are a traditionalist Catholic family. One of our primary goals as parents is to protect our children from what we see as certain dangerous secular or modern influences. And I wrote "my game" as something that would be potentially children friendly and Christian friendly (though it is certainly not a "Christian game" by any means).
But I do not think exposing my children (or letting them expose themselves) to "monsters" is bad, or at least bad per se, at least if it's not going to give them nightmares. I imagine some parents, including Catholic parents, will be disturbed by this. And I do want to reassure everyone. I take the general issue very seriously. I just think that being interested in monsters is actually healthy. My children don't want to be monsters (though they may sometimes act like them). Rather, they want to fight them.
That's okay. Perhaps more than okay.
Sorry, pacifist parents.
By the way, I don't believe my children ever dream about monsters, or at least they don't tell me that they do.
When I ask my son what he's going to dream about (a prelude to getting him to settle down in bed), he says, "Hot Wheels!"
When I ask my daughter what she's going to dream about, she says, "What a good day I'm going to have tomorrow. And how I love Mommy."
And again, hey, I didn't do it. They dragged the books down from a shelf . . .