It is unbelievable the things one believes when one is a child. Santa Claus, the Three Kings, and other tales we hear in elementary school and childhood friends. But what it amazes me the most is the amount of faith we place in believing those things. One January 6th, I woke up to find nothing in my sock. I ran crying to my mom’s room, how could the Three Kings forget about me? My mom came out of her room with a big smile and a big box of chocolates. As she explained, they didn’t forget about me. The Three Kings thought my mom’s room was my room—when in fact my mom fell asleep and didn’t place the chocolates in my sock.
I believed her the whole thing. Never in my young mind I would never question my mom’s words; the Three Kings left my chocolates in the wrong room, period. The same principle applied to all what I heard in elementary school. There was one tale in particular we all knew we all wished we never heard at all: “El Cuento de La Mano Pachona”. This translates to “The Tale of the Fuzzy Hand.” In elementary school you always wanted to be good. Not even in your wildest dreams you wanted to be face to face with the Fuzzy Hand.
“Érase una vez, un niño que desafió a sus papás y se salió solo a la calle y sin permiso. La Mano Pachona, una mano gigante, fea, diabólica y peluda, lo agarró y se lo llevó, y nunca nadie volvió a saber nada de ese niño.” When you are 6, 7, or eight years old and you hear the tale of a kid who disobeyed his parents by leaving his house by himself to play on the street, and suddenly a giant, ugly, evil and hairy hand found him, kidnapped him, and the little boy was never ever found ever again; when you hear this at that age, you totally freak out and you never dare to cross the door to the outside by yourself.
Our parents, grandparents, and older siblings, taking advantage of all this nonsense fear, would use such story as an effective deterrent: “Niño, si te sales a la calle solo, se te aparecerá la Mano Pachona y te llevará”. “Kid, if you leave the house all by yourself, the Fuzzy Hand will appear and will kidnap you.” It took me a while to understand this was no true, but it took me to be a mother to realize that, whoever invented the story and as cruel as it might sound, it serves its purpose of protecting young children from the real Fuzzy Hands out there. Sometimes the end justifies the means.