Pop Rocks: Traumatizing Your Kids Is for Their Own Good

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Easter is less than two weeks away, which -- if you're a parent -- means you'll probably be dealing with at least two unpleasant occurrences: projectile vomiting brought on by overconsumption of Peeps, and the dread Easter egg hunt.

"Wait," you're saying, "Egg hunts? What could possibly be unpleasant about those?" In a word, parents:

An annual Easter egg hunt attended by hundreds of children has been canceled because of misbehavior last year. Not by the kids, but by the grown-ups.

Too many parents determined to see their children get an egg jumped a rope marking the boundaries of the children-only hunt at Bancroft Park last year. The hunt was over in seconds, to the consternation of eggless tots and the rules-abiding parents.

Here's a quote from possibly the Greatest Father Ever:

"You have all these eggs just lying around, and parents helping out. You better believe I'm going to help my kid get one of those eggs. I promised my kid an Easter egg hunt, and I'd want to give him an even edge."

He's going about it all wrong. Now, I usually shy away from this "helicopter parent" stuff but when we start elbowing children aside to scoop up plastic eggs stuffed with expired candy and Chuck E. Cheese coupons, God has clearly shaken His head one last time in sad frustration and moved on to creating a planet full of Boccaccio '70-era Sophia Lorens. And while many modern parenting "experts" agree that a little failure is necessary in raising healthy children, I say we need to traumatize our kids as early and often as possible.

NOTE: The following suggestions have been rigorously tested by/on the author, now a perfectly well-adjusted adult who only occasionally lapses into marathon viewings of The Dick Van Dyke Show interrupted by drunken crying jags.

Turn Off The Parental Controls Today's cable and satellite systems allow you to set passwords to prevent unauthorized viewings of G-String Divas or that Nightline about Juggalos, which I suppose is useful. However, back in the good old days of scrambled porn and cable boxes, I was less interested in boobies than I was watching as many Friday the 13th movies as possible before Dad got up to go to work. Lousy Golan-Globus flicks and Z-grade horror were also de rigueur, and occasionally terrified me beyond the capacity for rational thought. I'm not suggesting you leave your credit cards in reach (On Demand is a temptation I never had to deal with), but your children will naturally gravitate towards that which most scares the shit out of them.

Remember: Disney Used To Make Disturbing Movies Yeah yeah, the deaths of Mufasa and Bambi's mom are pretty bad, but let's not forget about Stromboli, or the Banshee from Darby O'Gill and the Little People, or Where the Red Fern Grows. When your kids say they want Disney, give it to them old school.

Scare The Crap Out Of Them As Often As Possible You don't have to go all-out floating head of death or "Bart! Wanna see my new chainsaw and hockey mask?" but there are ways. It should be easy to coax out of a child what scares him/her. Is it vampires? Get some wax fangs and loom over their bed until they wake up. Darkness? Unscrew every lightbulb in their room. Sharks? Play the theme from Jaws on a boom box while they're in the bathtub. This is your time to shine, so be creative.

Use The "Adoption" Gambit True story: Many years ago my younger sister and I were engaged in one of our not infrequent arguments about whatever subject we'd settled on that day when I decided to bust out the nuclear option of sibling conflict: I told her she was adopted.

I was expecting a proportionately smart-assed response, not the caterwauling of the damned that had me desperately shushing her before our parents were alerted something was amiss. No dice, for when my sister was queried by my mother about the source of her consternation, the response was, "What does 'adopted' mean?" Not only was I robbed of the glory of a choice insult, now my parents wanted to kick my ass.

Be Honest Life isn't fair. Jimmy Carter said that once, and it was drummed into my head for quite some time. Don't sugarcoat things for your kids; let them know that the good guys don't always win, the bad guys aren't always vanquished, and happily ever after really is a fairy tale.

Need proof? The New York Yankees have 27 World Series wins.

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