One of the things that no one ever tells you about parenting is that your kids can actually be pretty darn scary in the right circumstances.
The part of your brain that goes, “Oh, no! There is something WAY bigger than the dog in the dark hallway. It’s coming right for us. We’re going to die!” is way faster than the part of your brain that goes, “Oh, hey. Look the precious, sweet four-year old is coming down the hallway.”
Another big scare tactic your average two- or three-year old pulls off is the silent stare while you sleep. It works like this: You are sleeping, often because you are exhausted, and you fell asleep on the couch. Your toddler has noticed you, and has now come over, and is staring directly into your face, right at their eye level. When you away, someone is staring at you, and that fast part of your brain freaks out.
The worst part, is that when you get startled and recoil, that usually scares them. Now, not only do you have to calm yourself down, you have to calm them down too.
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It doesn’t help that horror movies use kids to cripplingly scary effect. Remember the twin girls in the Shining. That was creepy when you were 17. It’s freaking terrifying when you see a similar look on your own 9-year old’s face while they stand motionless in the hallway. To be fair, they are probably thinking about cookies, but there is no way for you to know for SURE that they aren’t wondering why there are no axes in your house.
The girl from The Exorcist, Damien from the Omen, all the kids in Children of the Corn, that girl in the TV in Poltergeist, about half the kids in Sixth Sense, and worst of all, the girl from The Ring, give your brain plenty of head start on seeing something terrifying, whether it is actually there or not.
Kids Say the Scariest Things
Of course, then there are the things children say. Sure some of them are really cute.
One kiddo once told me about the “sun petals” (the rays of sunlight that filter in above the curtains) that grow bigger as morning gets closer. Awwww.
Of course, there was also the time about the “funny sounds the shadow people make.” Wha-?!
The worst is during the phase where they get curious about death.
“Do I really get ALL of your stuff when you die?” Um…
“How do they know if someone killed you? You can’t tell them what happened if you’re dead.”
And so on.
The reality, of course, is that kids almost never intend to be scary. It’s all just your imagination filling in details from your own fears.
In fact, when kids actually do try to be scary it’s usually pretty funny instead. From obvious lumps hiding under the sheets, to the thunking footsteps echoing through the whole house as they desperately scramble into place behind a corner, you spend a lot more time as a parent pretending to be scared than actually being scared.
Still, when they get you, it can be enough to give you a heart attack.
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