Scare Tactics



When I was a kid my mother used to love scaring the living shit out of me and my siblings. She would read to us from a book called Struwwelpeter. It was a German translation and in one story a boy gets his thumbs cut off with giant scissors. She would send me to the basement to get potatoes then hide around the corner holding a raw chicken and lunge at me when I came upstairs. She’d throw rubber snakes at me while I watched Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.

None of this sounds that scary now. But I used to lose it and she would double over in hysterics. At the time I couldn’t figure out what possessed her to do these things. Now I know. Scaring your kid can be fun. I don’t mean giving them lasting fears of black people or money. But just giving them an innocent little fright so you get to watch them freak out and try to figure out what’s going on.


Masks are a great place to start. I picked up this cheap plastic mask of Yasser Arafat at a party supply store in Beirut. (I guess it’s totally normal buy balloons, streamers, noisemakers and a stack of Arafat masks if you’re throwing a party for a two-year-old in Lebanon.) For the best results follow these steps:

1) Make sure your kid sees your face and recognizes you.
2) Turn away and put on the mask.
3) Now turn back and show them your new “face”. If your baby doesn’t freak out right away, they will when you take the mask off. I’m sure they think you have literally peeled off your visage.


Unfortunately this trick has diminishing returns. I tried it this morning and she barely flinched. After masks I moved on to the Variable Uncanny Embryo Horrible Creep In Dark. Again, the first time my daughter Beatrice confronted this wonder of Chinese manufacturing, she lost it. The second time, as you can see, it was almost no big deal.

I’m not sure how much further I want to push this though. I could wind up instilling in her some weird phobia about buying cheap souvenirs. She would never forgive me.


2 Responses to “Scare Tactics”

  1. ty Says:

    Because it is so interesting to see where kids boundaries for this kind of stuff lies (given they have no context for certain fears or phobias), I’ve taken the precaution to start a Therapy Fund for my child in place of the traditional College Fund.

    Anybody can weasel their way into a top-tier university and pay little if anything. But a good shrink is fucking expensive.

  2. miss universe Says:

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