Wizards Vs Aliens – not safe for the traumatised child

Being back in the UK and on holiday from school and work meant that we had time for the family to spend time together. One of the things we did was to watch a few episodes of Wizards Vs Aliens we’d yet to catch up with. The series was broadcast on CBBC, so it’s aimed at kids, and written by Russell T. Davies of Doctor Who (among other many shows) fame. We’d watched the first few episodes of the series, about a young wizard and his geek mate who fight against aliens trying to “eat” magic, together and enjoyed them.

A couple of days before Christmas, Robbie kept getting out of bed, complaining of a (clearly non-existent) tummy ache. After putting him back to bed twice, I mentioned that sometimes tummies ache because of an emotion that’s inside us rather than something we’ve eaten. I wondered out loud if that might be the reason why his tummy ached. Robbie nodded. He said there was something bothering him, but he didn’t want to tell me as it would hurt my feelings. After I explained that whatever it was it was more important to share his feelings than to hide them, he opened up and told me that he was worried that he may kill us one day. I empathised with what a horrible worry that must be. Then I made the connection with a Wizards Vs Aliens storyline in which it’s revealed that Jackson, a teenage “rebel wizard”, killed his parents in a moment of anger (it’s later revealed that he didn’t actually kill them, though). I asked Robbie if his fear was connected to the TV programme; he said yes and broke down in tears. Robbie feels so bad about the times when he’s violent and can’t control his anger and worries (as I also do when I’m feeling low) that he will continue to hurt me when he’s older and stronger. I told him that he’s a good boy and he’s been controlling his anger better lately. I also reminded him that the TV show is fictional. Finally, I reminded him that that’s the reason why we go to therapy, so we can all learn to understand each other and to control his violence. I felt so bad for the poor little thing. He was truly worried.

A week later the TV series was responsible for another crisis. The final two episodes, which we watched over Christmas, deal with the reappearance of the main character’s mother. Everyone thought she’d been dead for years, but it turned out she’d been kidnapped by the aliens. Tom, the main character, suddenly sees her on the street and his life is turned upside down by her reappearance. That evening, Robbie told us he was worried that his birth mother would find him and she’d suddenly appear in the street like Tom’s had. We explained to him, like we have many times before, that she doesn’t know where we live and that she’s not looking for him; and that even if she turned up we are his parents now and have all the legal rights. He was somewhat reassured, but clearly shaken by the fear that he may be found by his birth parents.