Sometimes the things we do to our kids in the name of “fun” isn’t really fun at all. Take tickling, for example. A little kitchy-kitchy-cooing around the neck or tummy is okay in small doses, but when a grownup keeps tickling Junior to the point of gasping or exhaustion, it can be downright upsetting for a little kid.
Ditto scary stuff. Halloween costumes and decorations are becoming more elaborate – and gory. For tweens and teens, it’s awesome, but younger ones can freak out when they pass houses with pop-up vampires and giant spiders. Last weekend, I took my kids to the Museum of the Moving Image. They had a Freddy Krueger prosthetic and costume on display that’s still giving my 6-year-old nightmares.
Even a simple “boo!” prank can go too far – as Julia Roberts has discovered!
On today’s edition of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, the ultratalented actress confesses that she enjoys scaring her three children, 7-year-old twins Hazel and Phinnaeus and 4-year-old Henry.
“If I hear them coming and they don’t know where I am in the house, I crouch down in their private space and [when] they come in, I jump out,” she says, laughing. “Really, little people can just catch air. They just vault.”
But she’s come to realize that she was getting more of a kick out of her well-meant joking than her children were. “I’ve had to tone it down,” she admits. “It’s so wrong. It’s like child abuse.”
She plays similar pranks on adult friends, too – including Ellen herself. This time, though, the talk-show host was ready for her. Before taping began, she hid in the star’s private bathroom and popped out when Julia came in. (Click this link to see the big moment!)
The surprise scared Julia so much, she jokes, “I peed my pants! I screamed like I was being mugged on the subway!”
But maybe she hasn’t learned her lesson entirely. Ellen asks, “Now, do you think you’ll get me back?” and Julia laughs as she says, “Yes – there’s no question!”
Happily, though, Julia exercises good judgment when it comes to letting her children see some of her roles. In the new movie Mirror, Mirror, she plays Snow White’s wicked stepmother-queen, and she was careful to allow them on the set only during certain times.
“They were never there when I was talking, because I only say wretched things,” she says.
So what’s your take? Is it okay to give kids a friendly scare – or should moms leave the frightening to, say, Barney?
[Photo: via PacificCoastNews.com]
Read more of Shana’s writing at Momsperiments.
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