I was holding my three-year-old’s hand walking down the stairs this morning, like we usually do. He’d been sick for the past few days, so I tried to cheer him up by telling him we could play anything he wanted. His eyes lit up, and as I was about to take another step he yelled, “Red light!”
In any other circumstance, I would’ve stopped and tried to hold my pose. However, my husband and I have been binge-watching “Squid Game” on
, and hearing my toddler yell those words turned my stomach upside down.
The show is great if you don’t have kids in your house
If you haven’t seen the show, the basic premise is that a bunch of people are taken into a competition in which they play traditional kids’ games. If they lose the game, they’re killed.
The very first game is “Red light, green light,” an all-time favorite with toddlers.
Our kids play it at school with their friends. At soccer practice, coaches use it to get the kids’ attention. We use it when we need our children to stop walking and allow us to catch up with them.
Except now, after watching “Squid Game,” all I can hear after my toddler yells “red light” is the scanning noise the creepy, giant doll makes before shooting down half the contestants.
It doesn’t end there.
This week our kids’ school sent a newsletter highlighting the activities the children had been focusing on for the past few days. In the middle of the newsletter, there was a photo of two kids working on their honeycomb cut-outs. That’s right — they were carving out images from little circles while trying not to have their piece crack.
This was reminiscent of another challenge on “Squid Game.” Dalgona candy, which is made by mixing sugar and baking soda, comes with a little image carved into it. In the show, contestants carve out shapes using a pin. If the candy breaks, they die. The easier the shape is, the easier it is to advance to the next level. The dalgona game happens on episode three, and is now a trending TikTok challenge.
My husband has suggested making the honeycomb toffee for our kids to practice their fine motor skills, just like in the show. That’s a no from me.
As a parent, the simplicity of the games paired with the nostalgia of having once played them as a kid myself is what makes this popular show so haunting to watch.
All the players are dressed in tracksuits and play some of their games in settings that reminds viewers of any playground around the world. It’s as if they are big kids.
I can’t stop thinking about how innocent these games were to me three days ago. Now, when I hear “red light” my instinct is to hold my breath. Just in case.