Scaring Kids

   Yesterday on the radio, they were discussing the odd topic of scaring kids. Listening to the parents tell stories about scaring their children threw me back to my childhood.  Scaring kids during Halloween became a tradition within my family – not just my immediate family, but my aunts, uncles and cousins too.

My uncle Lan who has since passed away used to rig up elaborate contraptions with the help of his sons.  He lived on a corner lot with lots of old Oak trees, so it was traditional to see ghosts flying through the air at unsuspecting kids (and parents).  There were usually tombstones in the yard, spider webs, candy being handed out by my aunt dressed as a scary witch, and lots of strange noises and lighting emanating from the house.  Each year was different enough that the expected was still unexpected.  It was great!

My other uncle Bob and his son kept things simple.  Early in the evening, Bob would put a trash can near the sidewalk in the guise of collecting litter from the trick-or-treaters.  What the trick-or-treaters didn’t realize was that my cousin was hiding inside the trash can.  It was pretty funny.  Each year was a little different, but the concepts were always simple.  Their rule was only scare the older kids.  This rule was important another year when they made my cousin into scarecrow complete with burlap bag for a mask.  He sat in a chair along the sidewalk.  The little kids were already avoiding him because they are usually freaked out by it.  The older kids were a bit cockier by going up and acting like they were going to tip it over…until they almost peed their pants  when he grabbed them (or acted like it). 

My dad used to love to dress up for Halloween.  His philosophy was why should the kids get to have the fun – if I’m taking them trick or treating, I should dress up too.  He had this old man’s mask that was fairly creepy by itself.  But, he would put his alter ego (the old man) through various scenarios.  My favorite was the year he embedded a butcher knife in a block of wood, strapped it to his chest, and smeared fake blood all over the front of his shirt.  It freaked people out even if he was just standing there.  But, when he joined forces with my uncle, it got pretty humorous.  He would lay across the sidewalk going to Bob’s house, and scare the big kids who was convinced he was a dummy.  Instead of grabbing for them, he would say in a raspy voice “Help me” and make a move like he was going to go for them.  It resulted in some of the funniest reactions from the older kids.  

The Hubby took a page out of my cousin’s book a year before we had our own trick-or-treaters.  We were living with the Hubby’s grandpa after his grandmother died, and the neighborhood was full of kids.  He sat on the front stoop, dressed in black and with a fake pumpkin on his head.  He wore a black mask underneath to hide his face.  He had the candy bowl in his lap.  I was out there too, and would give candy to the little kids.  We didn’t want to scare them.  The older kids would walk up and act as through they were going to “break the dummy” as they would say.  That was their plan until the Hubby would make some sort of move towards them or give an evil laugh or something.  The parents found it hilarious because most of the kids were at that age where their cockiness was getting to the parents, so to see them knocked down a notch was fun.  

These stories are all the reasons why our kids will have twisted senses of humor.  We are forever reacting to situations in unexpected ways which startle them.  I guess, I could look at it positively as we are desensitizing them from further tricks like these – but I can’t hide the truth.  It’s just fun scaring them.  Especially my older daughter whose usual response is “Mommy, you’re freaking me out!”  

What do you think?