I Let My 4 Year Old Watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer

He wore me down. After begging and begging and begging…okay. There wasn’t *too* much begging. After all, how much begging is really needed when your child pleads to watch your favorite show with you?

In case you don’t know this about me, I am a huge fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It’s been my favorite show for almost 15 years. I always told myself I wouldn’t let our son (who turns four next month!) watch the show until he’s at least 8 years old. Well, apparently plans change and you just have to roll with the punches. I had two reasons for that age:

1) I was worried the show would scare him because I personally saw a scene of it while flipping through channels back in 1997 at the age of 6 and had nightmares for years – I didn’t even know at the time what show I had scene, I just knew that a dummy was seemingly attacking a blonde girl. Spoiler alert: The dummy I feared for years and years ended up actually being a good guy. That’s right. If I had just stuck it out back then and continued watching, I may have averted all of those nightmares. Or maybe not.

2) At an even younger age, I watched Power Rangers with my sister and karate chopped her across the back when she bent over. Needless to say, I was no longer allowed to watch Power Rangers. Obviously this made me assume that Bailey would turn into the same violent monster that I was. Just kidding. I got in trouble and continuously sat on the step pretending not to watch the show from then on, and I never once attacked her again. Lesson learned.

"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" published by Quirk Books
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” published by Quirk Books

Bailey is a physical child and he is terrified of monsters in the closet so for those obvious reasons, I absolutely knew under no circumstance that I would ever let him watch Buffy until he was good and ready. He has known of Buffy because he has the Buffy children’s book, which he reads all the time. It’s an adorable and age appropriate story where Buffy at 8 years old, finds monsters in her closet. This book started his love for the characters and I couldn’t have been prouder.

And then two days ago, he sat between my husband and I at the dinner table and announced:

“Mommy! Me wake up. Me cuddle you on couch in morning. Me watch Buffy with you all morning?”

Gwith looked at me and said, “Oh really? You’ve let him watch Buffy?”

I swiftly responded: “No! We have not watched that much. He’s seen a few minutes here and there when he’s come down from his nap…and the musical episode.”

Bailey then looked at me and said: “Me not scared anymore! Me big boy now!”

So after much consideration (and after recently watching the first two seasons and realizing how tame the first season especially is), I decided I’d let him watch some episodes from the very first season with me. Beforehand, I discussed with him that all of the fighting on the show is not to be done with people. I explained it’s pretend and if we did that with anyone in real life, they would be sad. He was very understanding. I’d also like to add right now that I wasn’t worried about him replicating the vampire biting since he was bitten by a child at preschool this summer and understands the pain of it whole heartedly.

Last night, after finishing dinner, I invited Bailey over to the couch to watch Buffy with me. He ran over with such excitement, turned off almost all of the lights, and snuggled up to me.

“Welcome to the Hellmouth” opening scene

As the first episode “Welcome to the Hellmouth” faded in, Bailey looked at me and said, “Are they bad guys?” I cuddled him and told him that one of them was and asked him to guess which one. Amazingly he guessed correctly, and as the scene got a little scarier he told me he was scared. I reminded him that if it was scary I could turn it off. He looked at me and said, “Me joking. Me big boy.” And with that we were off for a two hour Buffy adventure…

Watching the show through his eyes was beyond enjoyable. His eyes were wide with awe and he gasped and giggled as the show continued on. When Angel followed Buffy along a dark path, Bailey shouted at the TV, “Buffy! Look behind you!!” and when their friend Jesse was captured by the vampires, Bailey looked at me with his hands up and nose scrunched doing his best vampire impression and said, “Bad guy goes grrr! Other bad guys goes grrr! Jesse goes AHHHH.” He proceeded to then ask me if Buffy was going to go underground and get all of the vampires. I reassured him that she will, although little to his knowledge, that doesn’t happen for quite some time. He asked me what she was holding (the wooden stake) and I played it down as a vampire dusting device that turns them to dust when she gently taps them with it. Luckily he’s nearly 4 and finds that absolutely plausible. As Buffy fought the vampires throughout the episodes, Bailey cheered her on and giggled with giddiness. He was so pleased to see a superhero that defeated all of the monsters he’s afraid of.

After finishing the first two episodes at 8:30, I told him it was bedtime. He begged me to watch more with him but I told him we’d watch another time. I turned off all of the lights and followed him upstairs. When he realized he forgot a toy downstairs, he sat at the top of the stairs and said he didn’t want to go down because there were monsters down there. I assured him there wouldn’t be and he would be safe. He timidly went downstairs and shouted that he saw a monster. Again I told him there wasn’t one. He responded, “It’s okay. Me get it with Buffy power! Cha cha cha cha!” He jumped around doing his best new moves and happily yelled up to me that the monsters were all gone. In this moment I realized that for him, Buffy isn’t a show encouraging the use of violence in every day life. It’s a show that’s giving him a sense of empowerment against the monsters he fears every night.

I tucked him in bed and left his room, still worried that he would suddenly be afraid from everything he saw. I stepped into the bathroom and suddenly I heard him cry. Worried that I scarred my son for life, I ran back to him. He looked at me holding his baby hippo stuffed animal that he had asked me to sleep with earlier and said, “Mommy! You forgot Dub Dub!” I took the hippo and left. He cried out again. I ran back again with the same worry and he looked at me and said, “Mommy! My painting fell off the wall. Help me fix it.” This was his paper painting that I stuck up there the other day on a string. I assured him I could fix it later. I left again. He cried out again. “Mommy! I need my ice pack!” I reassured him that his knee, which he had skinned the day before was okay and didn’t need ice. He took a breath and said, “Okay.” I left his room and not a peep. He peacefully fell asleep knowing that Buffy was out there protecting him and getting rid of all of the monsters he’s afraid of.

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