A Guide for ParentsCredit: photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/sparkle_in_the_sun/3552985275/">Sparkle in the sun</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/">cc</a>
What mischief is left for our Millenial generation of children to shock us with? For their parents own exploits, piercings, tattoos, or a past experimenting with mind-altering substances is hardly unusual. The boundaries of interracial and same sex dating have all but been removed. Fortunately for our kids, Joss Whedon and Stephenie Meyer have identified the next taboo frontier. Though they may believe themselves to be open-minded, most parents are still not ready for the shock of finding their precious bundle enamored with the undead, the cross-species shapeshifter, or a visitor from another planet. Here are some tips for discovering the hidden other-world identities of your child’s paramour, and what to do about it:
Newspaper: Want to know whether to worry in the first place? Become a regular reader of the obituary section. Keep an eye open for high numbers of deaths of teens or their parents, and watch for too many occurrences in this section of the words bizarre, or unexplained. Pay particular attention to key phrases such as “spontaneous neck rupture,” or “wild dog attack.”
Mirrors: Used for years by interior designers to make a space seem more open, a large mirror in a room will be an essential tool in recognizing, by the absence of reflection, the vampire in the room. As a bonus, it can be used to identify the narcissist in the room as well.
Garlic Pills: An old standby, but a good one. A daily dose will be a great initial litmus test for detecting if the new boy/girlfriend may be a distant relative of Edward Cullen. Of course, there is a high likelihood of false positives with this test, considering you reek of garlic. The good news? If you make them break up, the ex probably won’t eat you out of revenge.
Holy Water: Need a foolproof plan? Invite the local priest to lunch, and have him bless your full water pitcher. Then, come dinner, add new ice and serve. It weeds out the vamps, and those possessed by demons. Just be ready with some industrial level clean-up supplies: depending on your storyteller of choice, the results could get messy.
Get a Dog: Fido is man’s best friend, and the supernatural being’s worst enemy. Having a dog means getting a super sniffer which can identify at once anything less than (or more than) human. Learn your dog’s signals, and don’t take everything as a confirmation: a growl is probably significant. Humping your son’s guest’s leg is just embarrassing.
Silver: How many people break out the good silverware anymore? Isn’t your child’s blossoming love a great excuse to do so? The good news: it identifies werewolves and other shapeshifters. The bad news? It also identifies kleptomaniacs.
Hubble Telescope Photos: Extraterrestrials who look like humans may be the most difficult of groups to identify. Though different alien species have their weaknesses, they’re hardly universal. A few cleverly placed photos of the Orion or Crab Nebula may give you a lucky break. If he sees them and then pulls out his iphone to show you last years’ vacation shots from there, you can be certain he’s either alien or delusional.
Haute Cuisine: Looking for an excuse to try some more adventurous recipes? Try inviting your child’s date over for a dinner of roasted brains. If she accepts, and eats well, she’s either a zombie, or she’s French.
A Day at the Beach: This can help determine if your teen is dating a true creature of the night who bursts into dust or gore at the first sign of a sunbeam, or the more recently discovered cuddly, sparkly version. Of course, if the kid is pale, speaks about his many kills, and seems to be up all hours of the night, your little girl might just be dating a serious gamer. Bring sunscreen just in case.
What do to when it’s been confirmed:
Before you rally the neighbors for a BYOTP (Bring your own torch and pitchfork) party, take a moment and assess. When mob mentality gets involved, these things rarely work out well. However, there are a few things you can do to try and ensure junior’s next prom date is a bit more, well, average.
Let it run its course: Contrary to the books that make such love seem eternal, let the natural pitfalls of dating run their course. Vampire problems? Take them on a ski trip. It’s unlikely your dear daughter will want to cuddle up to a popsicle after a long day on the slopes. Zombie love? Have a family game of touch football- being on the losing team with someone who can only shamble will surely be no fun, not to mention when the hand-off accidentally becomes literal. Yuck.
Use cautionary tales: The scary movies in drivers’ ed certainly had their place, and it’s useful to benefit from the psychology that they offer. Though progeny is hardly feasible with the more corpselike suitors, a movie night showing The Business of Being Born followed by Alien will surely make a girl think twice. If werewolves are more her speed, a casual mention that the average litter size of a wolf is 4-7 pups may be enough.
Move: If all else fails, most supernatural beings have a certain geographical requirement. Aliens like small, isolated towns that they can completely replace with pod people. Vampires like either cities with a lot of night life, Romanian villages with large looming castles, or small, isolated, sunless towns. Werewolves need nice wooded areas where lots of people go for moonlit strolls. Figure out the geographical weakness, and move accordingly. Oh, and when choosing your new place, avoid Sunnydale, Forks, Mystic Falls, anywhere listing an old mansion for dirt cheap that no one will talk about, and anywhere called Amityville or Elm Street.