My husband calls it child abuse, my mother calls it torture. But I like to call it my go-to apparatus for rule enforcement when shit gets too real. But before I break the internet and entice pitch fork clad trolls to burn me at the stake for my questionable parenting practices, let me explain exactly how I accidentally uncovered the power to mind control my toddler.
Dylan’s new favorite pastime is pretending to be a monster. What started as popping out of corners and shouting, “BOO!” evolved into full-blown stalking, creeping, and growling. It’s like I have my very own fun-sized demon lurking behind me at all times…and it’s pretty cute. But faking the fear got boring and I wanted to play scary too, leading to mom/son scare-offs. He’d scare me, I’d scare him, and we’d both have a good laugh.
But mom got a little carried away (or a bit competitive) and without thinking too much about it, I put on my best monster face and let out my typical roar. And Dylan just about pissed himself.
He didn’t recognize me. Dylan was convinced that I really was a monster. He screamed, cried, and resisted coming near me. But it was hysterical and I couldn’t help but laugh. I mean, he started it. I apologized for my lack of sensitivity and tried to explain that I was just a jerk but you know…reasoning, toddlers…it’s a vain endeavor.
Hours later he was back to scaring. “Do you want mommy to scare you too?” I asked as a courtesy, but the trauma could not be undone. His smile turned into terror as he lunged into my arms and clung onto me like a teenage girl with her first smartphone, pleading, “No, no…Mommy? No? No scary?” LOL I couldn’t believe how terrified he still was by my face! I mean, how ugly can it be? But instead of wallowing in the insult, I realized I had unearthed some serious leverage.
It was a week later when I found myself struggling with a fit pitching toddler who refused to leave the daycare sandbox to come home with me. He screamed, gave me his back, and then I remembered…the face. So I stepped into the sandbox while my brute cautioned me with a screeching “NOOOOOOOO!” I remained nonreactive, picked up a shovel, nonchalantly pushed around some sand and whispered (like a calculated psycho), “Do you want mommy to scare you?” Boyfriend dropped his pail and flung into my arms faster than a knife fight in a phone booth, adding, “No, no, up? Up with mommy?” lol
Yes, I know scaring Dylan isn’t nice but it’s kind of a gray area. Is it cruel? Yes. Is it funny? Kind of. Does it work? EVERY TIME. I mean, trying to control a toddler’s behavior is a total waste of energy. There’s really no easy or foolproof way to do it. But somehow I’m ugly enough to encourage and discourage behavior with just one look. I’m not harming him (physically) and I don’t even have to actually make “the face” to get results. So go ahead and call me a monster because that’s kind of the point.