02 November 2016

When Did Making Our Kids Cry on Purpose Become Entertainment?

I knew they were coming. They do every year at Halloween and every year, I’m forced to bite my tongue and try my best to scroll through and ignore the endless amounts of videos that parents, entertainment sites and news sites post of parents picking on children by pretending to eat all their Halloween candy while leaving said children in a puddle of tears and hysterics and every year, I shake my head and wonder…

When did we decide that it’s okay to intentionally make children cry and play with their emotions and then package it all up as permissible because it’s “entertainment?” Tell me again what's so funny about intentionally hurting a child's feelings to the point of hysterics?

When did we decide that it’s okay to intentionally make children cry and play with their emotions and then package it all up as permissible because it’s “entertainment?” Tell me again what's so funny about intentionally hurting a child's feelings to the point of hysterics??

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while now, you know that I am by no means a stick in the mud nor do I make it a point to keep a broom handle wedged up my rear end. As tempting as that sounds, it’s just not my bag of chips. For the most part, I tackle life and parenting with a lot of sarcasm and laughs while always trying to find the humor in any situation because let’s be honest – if you can’t laugh at yourself and take things with a grain of salt in parenting, you’re fucked.

But picking on defenseless kids? I can’t understand why grown adults who should know better, think this is great comedic fodder. 

Let’s look at it from this perspective: You bring your Thanksgiving leftovers to work. You stick your lunch bag in the fridge as you blow a kiss to your mother’s homemade oyster stuffing, promising to see it again soon. All morning, you think about your grandmother’s homemade green bean casserole and how good it’s all going to taste in a few short hours when you’re able to stop and eat lunch. It’s the perfect treat you’ve been waiting for all morning. 

Lunch time arrives and you’re starving. You go to the fridge for your food but, SURPRISE! It’s gone. All of it. You search frantically for your lunch bag but can’t find it anywhere. Your initial gut feeling is panic which turns to anger which then quickly turns to sadness and desperation, all within a matter of minutes. What will you eat for lunch now? 

But wait! It’s just a joke! Your coworker thought it would be a hysterical idea to take something of yours and make you believe that it was gone. Something of value to you. Something, that to you, was important. Not only did he pull off such a “hysterical joke,” he made sure to video your response and blast it all over social media for the world to see, laugh at, poke fun of, belittle and mock.

Not funny, right? Anyone who’s ever had their lunch stolen, eaten or taken at work knows how this is so not funny. It’s also less amusing when it turns out to be a joke. Now, imagine how your child feels about their supposedly gone or eaten candy. 

It’s easy to say, “It’s just candy! Get over it!” but that’s really not the point. We’re talking about children, young children. To them, their Halloween candy is a big deal. In the mind of a child, they worked hard for their candy and in some instances, were probably threatened to not have the chance to go trick or treating for their Halloween candy if they didn’t follow X, Y or Z rule and behave. In the mind of a child, that bag of Halloween candy is a source of pride; something they hold value in. It’s just as important to them as a new outfit, car or anything else of value would mean to an adult. What I wouldn’t give to see the look on some parents’ faces if their child were to tell them (jokingly, unbeknownst to them) that they ruined their new outfit or did something to their brand new iPhone. I feel pretty confident in thinking that most adults would flip out, too. As adults, we have a hard time dealing with our emotions being played with so carelessly, so why would we expect our kids to be any different? 

It’s a crazy concept, I know. Respecting others; even if it means they are half our size. Here’s a news flash: Kids! They’re actually people! 

I’m also the kind of person who wouldn’t hide a coworker’s lunch and tell them I ate it, allowing them to get angry and worked up for a few minutes to the point that they wanted to hit me and then tell them it was, “just humor.” No one likes that, especially children who lack the mental development to deal with their emotions properly. 

It’s science. We expect our children to behave like adults, even though they lack the ability and apparently, their role models have no idea what being an adult means either, and at the same time, we treat them as second class citizens and act like we’re superior in some way because we’ve been sitting around on the planet for more years than they have. 

“Oh, Courtney, get over yourself. It’s just for fun. Make sure you pick up a bag of humor from your local grocer’s freezer section on the way home from work today.”

Oh! Is that all it is? Well that makes sense. I had a hard time finding what I needed because I didn’t recognize the label, “How to Be a Complete Bitch in a Bag.” Wow. It’s really working! I suddenly think making children cry is hilarious! Maybe I’ll throw some handicapped women out of their wheelchairs, kick an entire litter of puppies and then for more shits and giggles, I’ll stop by an adoption agency on the way home to pretend like I’m interested in adopting some children but SIKE. I’m not. Man, its fun to be one of the cool, funny kids. What fun things do we have planned next? Stealing all the Jell-O from the senior citizens at the local retirement home and telling them they already ate it? Wooooo! What great fun! 

I admit, maybe I’m becoming a softie in my old age. More so, I’m sure having a child of my own turned me into a big ball of sap. I don’t know, but whatever it is, seeing a child cry, especially for no good reason just isn’t my jam at all. I mean, really. Who wants to hear a child cry period let alone giving them a reason to? 

No, that’s not my scene at all. And let’s just be honest – pranks as a whole usually suck. I can’t think of any prank that I’ve been privy to that really amused me. I’m usually left thinking, “That’s some really dumb shit.” But when it’s a prank concocted by a parent that a child trusts? No thanks. If that’s what it takes to be funny these days to get a laugh, then I guess I’ll just stay old and unfunny. 

Or here’s a thought to consider…

Find ways to be humorous that don’t include playing with a child’s emotions or picking on them. Find a way to be funny that isn’t degrading. Find a way to be funny that isn’t mean. I hear so many people say how mean kids are these days a rule of thumb and how kindness has all but gone to the wayside. Well, what do you expect when you are modeling mean behavior? 

I hope that as my five-year-old grows up, she understands what is truly funny and how to share her quick and brilliant wit with others in ways that aren’t hurtful. There are so many ways to make people laugh that don’t have to be manufactured by meanness. More so, I hope she knows what it means to be truly kind and thoughtful of another’s feelings because really, that’s what’s severely lacking in our world today – kindness and thoughtfulness to others.

I never want my child to think its okay to laugh at someone else’s distress, whether it’s real or made up. As her parent, it’s my job to make sure it doesn’t happen. We’re all responsible. I know we can do and be so much better than this. 

The world already has plenty of assholes. How about choosing kindness for a change?  
Courtney @ Shiraz In My Sippy Cup
Courtney @ Shiraz In My Sippy Cup

Courtney is a published author, mom, taco enthusiast, and a Star Wars and Tennessee Volunteers fanatic. She's never met a piece of sushi she didn’t like and enjoys an amazing glass of wine and a great cut of meat. You can read more of her wine-induced, sleep-deprived adventures on The Huffington Post and Scary Mommy.

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