How to Really Freak Out Your Kids

Want to give your children a fright this Halloween? Really give them the heebie-jeebies?

Here’s one sure-fire way to scare them silly. Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Go to a public place with your kid.
  2. Make sure there are lots of your child’s friends around.
  3. Be yourself.

Boo! It’s that easy!

My kids are still fairly young, but they’re already plenty embarrassed by mom and dad whenever their friends come over to play. Especially when we do things like pinch their cheeks, tell detailed stories about their potty training days or bust into the cabbage patch dance for no reason. But really, if we simply stood beside them breathing, it’d be mortifying enough for our kids to run away screaming.

Just today, I mentioned to my daughter how I planned on visiting her at school tomorrow to eat lunch with her class.

“What? What?” she yelled, jumping up from the kitchen table.

“I want to share lunch with you in the cafeteria! Tomorrow! With your little friends! It’ll be so much fun! I might even see your teach–”

“Oh no. Oh no, no, no, no, NO,” my daughter said, waving her hand in the air. “Oh. No. Way. No way do I want you there! Please don’t come, Mom! Please!”

“What?” I asked, a bit taken aback by her outburst. “Why not?”

“It’ll be too….too…freaky,” she said with a shudder.

“Freaky? But I’ll share my chicken nuggets with you, how’s that sound? Huh? Not freaky at all! And you can tell me about your day…and I can talk with your friends and–”

“Mom! It’s the way you eat! I don’t like the way you eat!”

“The way I eat? And how do I eat?”

“You always eat like this,” (she stared blankly off into space and pretended to shovel food into her mouth, slowly chewing it in a robotic daze)

“Gee, I’m sorry. I’ll try to eat my food in a more animated way next time.”

“Good.  But I still don’t want you there, sorry, Mom,” she said as she reached over and patted my hand. “But you can eat dinner with me tomorrow when I get home, okay?”

I’d like to take a moment here to point out my daughter is barely six years old. I’m afraid the teen years don’t bode well for this mama.

So I’ve decided not to visit my daughter at school after all. Wouldn’t want to traumatize the poor girl. But tonight, my husband and I might plan on busting out a fairly badass couples’ costume while we’re trick-or-treating with the kids. Just for the kicks and giggles.

Or maybe I’ll just sit in the car and not be seen in public with them, remaining at least 50 feet away at all times, the way things are meant to be.

Happy Halloween from Merida and Luigi! May you and your hellions have loads of sugar-laden but embarrassment-free fun tonight!

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122 comments

  1. Haha. You know it’s bad when your chewing is just too embarrassing to be seen in public :) No worries. My son perfected the look of total disdain and humiliation before he learned to speak. I took him to the doctor twice, figured he was constipated or something, but no. It was just early onset embarrassment.

    1. hahaha!!! Yes, they really do perfect that constipated look of disdain early on, Tori. My son is 10 now so he makes me walk about 20 feet behind him in public. I can’t talk to him or even make eye contact. I suspect when he’s a teen, I’ll never see him again.

    1. Something to look forward to. My mom is almost 79 and she does this awesome thing at the grocery store when she can’t find me. She panics and yells at the top of her lungs, “DARLA?? DARLA!!!!” Or she’ll comment on a stranger’s looks, right in front of the person and really loud. Oh, it’s a delight to go out in public with her now!

      1. Love it! Getting old gives you the automatic right to be as brazen as you like. You need these perks to balance out the dodgy hips and the price of bread.

  2. My youngest son is 7 and I am not even allowed to touch him in public. I don’t remember my older kids being this sensitive to embarrassment. I keep telling him to get over himself, but that’s not working, either ;-)

    1. I love that line. Get over yourself! I think I’ll try using that tonight. I don’t think my son has willingly allowed me to touch him in about three years. Last week I tried to give him a quick hug and he promptly freaked out, flailing his arms and screaming.

  3. Crapity-dap. I just came back to your page to reply to your reply to me and discovered you’ve posted a new piece. What are you doing up so early???? Better yet…why am I up so late???? You’re 3 hours ahead of me.
    Let’s just say, I’m getting a headstart on Halloween, okay? Go to bed, so I can come over and toilet paper your house. Although with the price of TP, and my astounding laziness, maybe I’ll just fork a 3×3 patch of your lawn and leave a note asking you to imagine the rest of it forked.
    Happy H., Darla

    1. Yeah. Why are you still up, Barb? Go to sleep! I have no idea why I woke up so ding dang early today (5 am) One of the RARE times I have the house all quiet so why not write a quick little post, right?? although now I can hear them stirring upstairs…maybe I can throw some cereal their way and continue to blog…hmmm…
      Happy Halloweenie to you, too, Barb!

  4. Ha! This reminds of the one year that I taught in my daughter’s school. Every time she saw me, she threw herself to the floor and covered her face. No kidding. She was in second grade.
    Now we teach in the same building!

    1. Okay, so now I don’t feel so bad! And now you guys teach together? So there’s hope??

      This must be a daughter thing. Because when my son was five years old he LOVED it when I visited the school to have lunch with him. Mothers and daughters have such a complicated relationship, don’t they?

  5. See, we don’t even need a scary mask to scare them! One year, my son thought it was a riot that I dressed up as Marge Simpson with the big blue wig and went out with him on Halloween (he was too young to go alone yet). The next year, he begged me to never wear that again. Ever.

    Dorkin’ it up in West MI,
    MJ

    PS — Happy Halloween!!

    1. Oh, I would loved to have dressed up as Marge! My husband thought of us all going as the Simpsons last year, but my oldest son was (you guessed it) mortified. Hope you had a dorky Halloween, MJ. I know I did.

    1. We are all doing great. So very lucky we didn’t get the brunt of that storm. We didn’t even lose power at all at my house, it just flickered. But we’re inland. The people on the coast lost power for a day or so. Nothing compared to NJ/NY of course.

  6. I just jumped up and did the cabbage patch for my son. He loved it. He’s 2. I’ve got….what 3, 4 years of adoration before he decides I’m an embarrassment?

    1. Aw, thanks, I’m relieved SOMEone would share with me. sniff, sniff.
      Yes, enjoy your sweet baby girl now, because one day very soon…she’ll turn into the mom. I swear my daughter has a 35 years old woman trapped inside her five year old body. She kills me. So much more mature and wise than I’ll ever be.

  7. you are so telling it the way it is – my oldest son has a band called Rodents and Rebels–and I am only invited to “some” of their gigs, and he is 26. He thinks I am a delicate flower and only has me come to biker camp gigs!

      1. I know, funny eh? It really wasn’t too bad–but we did leave not long after his band left the stage–my husband and I were, as my son said “awfully preppy looking” in that crowd–did not break out my colours and leather and tattoos

      2. Well, then, good thing you left when you did! I suppose he was being kind with the preppy looking statement. That is one step up from me and my husband, who often look like complete geeks/dorks/dweebs.

    1. Jean, my daughter (bless her sweet little heart) has something to say about my looks, my mannerisms, the way I talk, what I say…almost every single day. I have such a thick skin now because of it. I don’t think anything can ever offend me now.

  8. Ahhh they’re so cute! I can totally hear Julia saying that. I love that she patted your hand to try ease the blow. I’m glad you’re still having Halloween up there, too! I think it got officially rescheduled in Jersey.

    Keep me posted on the costume / trick-or- treat situation. That sounds promising.

    1. We actually had the BEST Halloween ever, JD. We were so lucky. The weather was warm (last year it snowed). But I made sure to stay back about 50 feet at all times.

      I will have to let you have another phone conversation with Miss J in the future. She’s a riot. (whenever I mention you and call you Jules, she says, “ANOTHER girl has my name too?!”)

      How are you guys doing now? I hope you’re coping okay (as best you can with the situation)

      1. Cuuuute! I’m so glad to hear that – I heard there was a ‘warm spell’ up yonder!

        One of my company’s facilities close to home is open, so I’m in the cafeteria now at a table by a TV (A TV!!! My first exposure to hurricane news coverage!), which is pretty sweet. Heat (it’s pretty cold here in Jersey), running water, cafeteria open, internet, charging my phone and personal lap top, woooot!

        It’s madness here. No traffic lights working for 30 miles, mile-long lines for gas, etc. Going to try to write a post today about it.

      2. I saw that. The traffic is an absolute nightmare and with the gas stations not open…madness. Stay in that cafe as long as you can. Hope you can get a hot shower, some coffee soon. I remember when we had no power for weeks during our ice storm and it was like the end of the world to us.

  9. I love this. And their costumes. Everything. I had the opportunity to see Springsteen tonight stay at home and watch the neighborhood kids trick or treat. I picked home. Because my kid planned a thing with friends. And if they do it…it will be crazy! I can’t miss it. :)

    1. You stayed home? I have to admit, I’m kinda looking forward to doing that one day. My son just informed me last night this year is the “last year ever” he’ll trick or treat. I don’t buy it.

  10. How funny, just yesterday I told Noah I was going to come visit him in class, talk to his teacher and then maybe have lunch with him. You think your 6-year-old freaked out? Noah’s 13. Of course I played the shocked role of WHAT? YOU DON’T WANT THAT? I DON’T UNDERSTAND! You used to LOVE when I worked in your classroom! I’m sad, Noah.

    1. It is so sad. My son loved it whenever I visited him at school! Well…until he turned around 8 or 9. But girls? Yeah, they pretty much come out of the womb being embarrassed by their mom. Must be that mother-daughter melodramatic dynamic…

  11. I remember going to the kids costume parties at school and being all dressed up! I just couldn’t waste the opportunity! I am sure they didn’t mind. …
    Now they are in college and won’t be here for Halloween. So sad.
    Embarrass them while you still can… :)

  12. Oh no …already she wants you to walk 10 paces behind? That is a bit young, but there is that whole zombie eating thing.

    Have a great trick-or-treating with your little cuties!

    1. I was surprised she is already at that stage. I think it took me a few more years to be fully embarrassed by my parents. I remember when it happened to…I think I was around 12 and my mom started singing “Bridge Over Troubled Water” at the top of her lungs in front of a boy I liked. Or maybe it was when my dad started dancing the Twist in front of my friends at a slumber party. Either way, I never wanted to be seen with my parents again.

  13. Oh, my. Sometimes I wish my kids were a little more embarrassed of me so I didn’t have to feel guilty when they have those parent days at school during the day when working moms can’t possibly get there. Although I can embarrass my 12 year old by walking behind her yelling “Juice!” like she used to do to me as a toddler.

    Love the costumes. My youngest is going as a very short Princess Leia (she’s 8) with honeybuns and everything. The eldest is going as an adolescent. Youngest made me paper cat ears stuck to hair clips for work today. I am a paper cat.

    1. Hey! Thanks, Lily! I can assure you, I eat like a normal person. But then, being normal is enough for most kids to be embarrassed or freaked out. What’s great is after she told me she hates the way I eat, I made sure for my next meal to chew while rocking my head from side to side and dancing in my chair. For some odd reason, she didn’t find that funny.

  14. My dad would take us trick or treating every year. For the most part, he just walked with us and occasionally shined the flashlight just right on a scary face he was making. But one year (and every year thereafter) he hid in the graveyard across the street. Behind grave stones. In order to scare my innocent neighborhood friends as they walked by thinking about how much candy they were going to score at the next house. THAT was embarrassing. But now I think it’s hysterical.

      1. Not in my book – circle of life stuff and all that. On my wife’s and my second trip to her folks after we got engaged, we took the back roads into South Bend (where her folks lived), and stopped at an old abandoned graveyard. We spent an interesting afternoon there – discovered a little local history when we noticed a whole slew of child’s graves with very close dates of death on them. We later found out that the town died out after an epidemic among the kids, the surviving families either moving out or dying off.
        You should come visit our little hole-in-the-wall here in Fresno, Ohio. It’s on a beautiful hilltop with GREAT fall scenery (except this year due to our drought), and there are graves back to the Civil War up there. And a very dear friend of mine, as well. Maybe it’s time I wrote a tribute to Lee ….. thanks for the inspiration, Rachelocal! :)

      2. I lived down the street from Burial Hill where the Pilgrims are buried. It overlooks Plymouth Harbor with a spectacular view. So many interesting grave stones to read, so I understand your fascination!

      3. Really?? GET OUT. Seriously? Do tell! I love cemeteries, always have. When my mom would drag us kids to them I’d run around and and play and check out all the tombstones. I find it a very relaxing and peaceful place.

  15. Yeah somewhere around 9 or 10 my sons decided I was not allowed to hug them in public. In large groups I am only allowed to nod at my 15 year old like some kind of secret agent code. I tell them it’s my job to embarrass them, and I threaten all kinds of humiliating actions (like calling them by their family nicknames), but I never follow through.

    1. Ha! Yes, it is a top secret code. Last week, I was at my son’s soccer game and he scored a goal. I made sure to not hug him, (as much as I wanted to) Instead I gave him a proper and slightly cool high five.

  16. I think my 20- and 23-year-old sons are paying me back for all of those years of visiting them at school and volunteering in their classrooms and chaperoning field trips … despite their protests: NO GIRLFRIENDS. Or they’re keeping them hidden … far, far away from a mom who will continue to mortify them, not by the way she eats, but by the mere act of opening her mouth and talking. And, on another funny note, my oldest – during his days of marching in the Memorial Day parade with the Little League team or the high school band – told me and my husband that we couldn’t say a word and could only wave from below our waists as he passed by. Happy Halloween – your kids and their costumes are adorable! Enjoy!

    1. Haha! Only wave below your waists? That is classic.At least he let you acknowledge him at all! My son is ten, so he’s already completely mortified by anything and everything that comes out of my mouth. Actually, he’s even more embarrassed by his father. The poor kid, I do feel for him though as his mom and dad are two of the dorkiest people on the face of the earth.

  17. I have an even worse way to get your kids. VOLUNTEER to be a lunch lady. Granted, this was back in my day, just after the wheel and before electricity, but our grade school decided to save money by cutting paid lunch ladies, and had the moms volunteer. EVERY kid, from EVERY grade, had to go past MY mom. And they all knew who she was, ’cause she TOLD them! 8O
    And people wonder why I turned out the way I did……

      1. I really liked our janitor – but none of that drippy “I was such a geek the only person who would eat lunch with me was the janitor” bit. Oh, no, I befriended him with an ulterior motive! (Ready for this?) buddy and I decided that our high school, a three-story square with an open center courtyard, would be the PERFECT place for a World War 2 urban combat battlefield, so I finagled some floorplans out of the janitor! :D
        But I liked the guy, too. I have a soft spot for janitors – I was having troubles with moving to a new grade school, and was still sporting my trademark summer crew-cut, when the grade school janitor walked up to me one day, gave me a big grin, rubbed his hand over my stubble, and called me “Curly”! Since I was already hooked on the Stooges, that was the nicest, most welcoming thing he could’ve done! ;)

      2. Aw, that’s a great story, John. My dad was probably the nicest janitor that school had ever seen. It was a tough job though, I imagine. Which is why he didn’t stick with it very long.

  18. Gosh, I wish my kids would give me more space, lol! I want them to be more independent and I really do my best to embarrass their little persons in public . . . but for sure the “follow twenty feet behind me” rule would pain me some as well. Thanks for the grins!

    1. My daughter is very clingy when she wants to be. Usually it’s not in public or when her little friends are around. Even my son will let me actually give him a side hug once in a blue moon. These are the things this mama holds onto for dear life now.

  19. They are so adorable — at least until you have to smack them.

    Sadly, the embarrassment lasts and lasts and lasts … “My friends all think you are nuts, Mom.” “But that’s in a good way, right? Right? Honey ….”

    Sigh.

      1. Oh no, Darla, you have it backwards. Go with them ALL THE TIME. Hold their hands in public. Say inappropriate things to their friends, especially when there are large groups of friends.

        That’s the only payback we get for (1) sleepless nights; and (2) having to endure the teen years.

  20. This tendency of kids to be embarrassed by their parents seems to be happening earlier and earlier. Eventually, newborns won’t want their mothers and fathers visiting them in the nursery.

      1. Ha. That reminds me of some of the reasons she might have to be embarrassed of me:
        Daughter: “Vegetables make you strong!”
        Me: “Yes!” (Finally, she’s getting it.)
        Daughter: “And they give you muscles and big lumpy arms like you which I DON’T WANT!!!”

        In hindsight, I should have told her that, with these lumps, I could fly. Next time…

      2. “with these lumps I could fly” oh my, I love that line.
        My daughter is always telling me I either “look bad, really, really bad” in the morning of asks me why I have lines on my forehead. Nice.

  21. My dad used to whistle when we walked through the store together. I hated that, but I was a teenager at the time. I’m a grandma now, and sometimes I hum when I am shopping. I try not to talk out loud to myself, though…age erases some inhibitions!

    1. This is killing me, Margie. I hum all the time in public. I’ll be in line at Target and practically break into a song and dance routine while waiting to check out. The part of our brain that censors how we act in public must be destroyed by the time we reach age 40.

      And talking to myself? When I’m home alone, I do that. Like I’m giving myself a running commentary of my daily activities. “Hm…now I should really do the dishes, shouldn’t I? But maybe I’ll make a cup of coffee first…doo-doo-doo…boo–bee–booo…” then I start humming. I wish I had a cat again because I could talk to it.

  22. Darla, when our oldest daughter was a teen, she didn’t even want to be in the same movie theater with me. By the time she graduated from high school, we had gotten a lot closer. She moved from Center New York to go to college in Florida. A year or so later, she’s begging us to come down – promising us grandkids. We caved … and we’re delighted we did. It does get better.

  23. My Little Man will be 10 in 3 weeks, and I’m just starting to embarrass him. But, because I used to volunteer in his class a lot, most of his classmates know me- so there’s no embarrassment for him at school (unless I were to try to hug him or God forbid, give him a kiss). Back when Little Man was in first grade, he would beg me to eat lunch with him, so I did a few times. My big butt barely fit at those tables with the built in benches. What a squeeze!

    We went to a friend’s party last weekend, in costume, so that was our Halloween celebrating.. And because L.M. has so many fears and anxiety, he’s never been a fan of Halloween. No trick or treating for us tonight. Besides, after school, tutoring, and the grocery store, it’s already 7pm and he’s yet to start homework.

    Hope your kids had a blast tonight. Here’s a dozen eggs, go hit up a neighbor’s house.

    1. Yes, my son used to beg me to visit him at school! I had many great lunches with him in the cafeteria. He wasn’t embarrassed by me at all. The only thing that really bothers him is if I touch him. I can’t hug him. I can NEVER kiss him anymore. Once I tried to kiss the top of his head and he accidentally head butted me. Love is painful.

      The kids had a blast, the best Halloween ever. Last year, I ended up carrying my daughter the entire time (who was crying the whole night)

  24. She’s not even six and she’s embarrassed by the way you eat? Where does that come from? She must’ve heard someone say something similar….
    How very kind of her to pat your hand and give you permission to eat dinner with her. :-)

    1. I have no clue, Rosie. She is an enigma. She is definitely an old soul. I swear she’s my grandmother reincarnated. She’s so matter-of-fact in the way she talks and honestly, she’s incredibly intelligent and mature for an almost six year old. I have no clue where she gets that stuff from.

    1. Oh, same here. I think it was when my dad used to drop me off at junior high dances in his snowplow truck, making sure to turn on the bright orange siren so it would flash and cause all the cute boys to look over as he dropped me off in his bathrobe.

  25. Too funny! Interesting thing, though, I never felt this way about my mom and Alex never felt this way about me. Although he did feel this way about his father. He liked to take his pants off when he got home from work and walk around in his boxer shorts (I know!). Alex was appalled when friends would stop by to visit and my Ex would answer the door in his underwear. I mean, what’s up with that!?

  26. My son is in 6th grade and has this “walkabout” program where moms can come monitor lunch and spy on their kids. When I told Taylor (eyes glistening with tears of love and good tidings) that I was coming in, he said “Great! Just pretend like you don’t know me.” I can’t tell you how much my heart swelled with pride and lovewith that awesome comment.

    Tweens suck.

    1. Oh my god! The way you described that moment was perfect. “tears of love and good tidings” hahaha!! And so sad. So very very sad. sniff, sniff. My son isn’t even technically a tween yet! (is he? when does that stuff begin anyway?)

  27. Oh man, you’re in trouble if your daughter is already embarrassed by you! But then again, that just means more years for you to purposely embarrass her :)

    Love their costumes, super cute! They both look so happy!

    1. Carly, they were so jazzed and they had the best Halloween so far. Both kids had a blast with their friends. I made sure to stay behind in the dark. Guess I’m too good of a mom to ruin their fun.

  28. Darla, I am thinking about the expression on your face, hearing your daughter’s plea. By the way I am sure after this, for the rest of your life you are going to eat in a much animated way. :) By the way I too tell my mom please do not ask my friends any questions when they visit our place. Actually most of the mothers in our part of world have a habit of asking to many questions to their kid’s friends. So every son has to make sure that, his friends would not have to lie when they visit his place. :)
    Happy Halloween to you!

    1. Does you mom ever listen to you when you ask her not to ask too many questions of your friends? I’m sure my mom never did when my friends came over. Actually, my father embarrassed me more growing up, especially when boys came over to visit. Must be that father-daughter thing.

      1. Ha! :) As you know, it is always difficult to convince mothers that some of their behaviors embarrass us as kids. Just as you’ve mentioned let me tell you, if I talk to any girl of my age, my mother’s reaction makes me laugh. She always believe I am too young to chose the right girl as a partner. :) As you know, Mother-Son thing.

      2. Well, it certainly sounds like your mom is doing her job the right way. I really do feel bad for any of my son’s future girlfriends. I’ll be nice, but I’ll be very protective, like a mom should be.

  29. You crack me up, woman!! Your daughter’s description of your chewing was hilarious. I for one LIVE to embarrass my kids. It’s the payback I’m owed for all the crap I endure with them every day. When they stop, I’ll stop. Until then, it’s lunch with each of them once per week, whether they like it or not! (It’s particularly fun with the 5th grader, though his friends think I’m too cool.)

    1. Y’know, I can always count on you to tell it like it really is, Shannon. I wholeheartedly agree. Us moms do put up with a lot. This is our way of balancing things out and restoring the universe the way it should be.

  30. Oh, man… her teen years do sound tough. Reading it I thought, “Yeah, middle school years are the worst. Who among us didn’t think our parents… oh… she’s six? Oh.”

    Maybe she’s getting it out of her system?

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