The Scariest Thing for Children Is The Truth

“Daddy, scare me!” My daughter said and she laid face down on the kitchen floor, already balled up in anticipation of the terror to come. She had just “snuck” up on a fully suspecting me and shouted “ROAR” directly in my ear, so now it was my turn to return the favor. But in that moment it struck me how lame this game was.

She says “scare me”, I grab her make some kind of scary grunt, she screams, she giggles, lather, rinse, repeat. Not scary. But what else can I do? Then it occurred to me – tell her everyone she loves will be dead someday.

Too far? Perhaps. Terrifying? Absolutely. And, as far as I know, a completely uncharted parental course. Brutal honesty as a means of frightening your children for fun. Like many great ideas it really toes the line between brilliance and insanity. And maybe in this case child abuse.

Maybe the next time she doesn’t want me to read her a bedtime story but wants one out of my head, I really dig deep and pull out of the recesses. Perhaps a retelling of “The Hills Have Eyes”, “Jaws,” or the electoral college. Absolute nightmare fuel.

Want daddy to sing a song? Let me tell ya about Mack the Knife. I know that song is catchy and always sung by a smoother crooner, but have you ever actually listened to the lyrics? My kids usually ask for “The Rainbow Connection” at bed, but maybe I should switch it up. “Good night sweetie, try not to dream about getting murdered in alley!”

When we are watching movies and somebody dies I always say “oh, they got a boo-boo. I think they might go to heaven.” Maybe I should stop glossing over it. “Yep, Tarzan’s parents were killed and eaten by a wild animal. Same one that ate the gorilla baby don’t ya know. Hey, who wants to go to the zoo?!”

Want to watch a video on daddy’s phone? Hold on while I try to spell Zapruder. Now pay attention kids, it’s back and to the left. Back. And to the left. One shooter? C’mon.

Of course I didn’t do any of those things. I walked up to her all curled up on the floor, paused a moment to build suspense, and tickled her sides and said “ROAR!” She lurched up and then back down, smacked her forehead on the kitchen floor, and started to cry. Next time I’ll just tell her about how they never caught the Zodiac or something.

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