Welcome to my very first
Monster Wednesday post!
I decided to start with El Cuco because this particular monster hits close to home. It is a part of my childhood, my abuela used to sing a special song to get me to sleep every night that I stayed at her house. It went something like this:
“Duérmete niño, duérmete ya, que viene el Cuco y te comerá...”
It went on, on a loop, until I closed my eyes. I'm sure that it appears sweet to you, a grandmother singing her precious grindchild to sleep. Wrong! Far from it, when translated to English, the song actually says: “Sleep child, sleep now, or the Cuco will come and eat you.” Don't take it from me, go translate it if you don't believe me.
According to our ever trusty friend and highschool companion, Wikipedia, the myth of the coco originated in Portugal and Galicia. The word "coco" derives from the Portuguese language, and referred to a ghost with a pumpkin head.
[Brief pause. Really? That's the first time I hear that version. Could that mean that Pumpkinhead is the Cuco?!]
Anyway, our friend Wiki goes on to tell us that the word coco is used in colloquial speech to mean the human head (which is true) in Portuguese and Spanish. Coco also means skull.
So the myth of this blanket garbed monster centers on its head? I don't think so.
Try telling that to the millions of small children that have forced themselves to sleep terrified of a hooded monster that would make a meal of them and pick its teeth with their bones if they dared to disobay their parents.
However, I do agree with Wiki on this one part: it's not the way the cuco looks but what he does that scares most.
A lot like the Boogeyman, el Cuco is a child eater and a kidnapper, it immediately devours the child and leaves no trace of her or it takes the child away to a place of no return.
I asked a friend what she remembered about the Cuco from when she was little and she told me that what resonated most with her was the nightly terror that she suffered when she hid under the covers and laid in wait for it to pull them down slowly and take her.^shudder^
But, it only does this to disobedient children.
[You can see why I was so deeply frightened of this one.]
It is said that el Cuco is on the look out for naughty children and that it can take the shape of any dark shadow in their room while it watches.
Along the years, many parents have kept with the tradition of singing lullabies or telling stories to their children to warn them that if they don't behave or go to sleep, el Cuco will come and get them. Outstanding parenting methods, using a creepy lullaby – sung to the universally recycled tune used with Rock-a-bye Baby – to scare their children to sleep.
Looking back now, I guess that I can see how it can be kind of cruel. Either you closed your eyes and forced yourself to sleep or you prepared for the Cuco to come and eat you alive.
Insensitive, yet extremely effective.
I sang it to my eldest once or twice… ^maniacal laugh^
But, I've decided to stick to the more conventional Mockingbird Song with the youngest.