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White Knuckle Parenting: My Worst Parenting Choice Ever

Here's a tip: When your kid has the hiccups and tells you to scare him to make them go away, he doesn't really mean it.

Do you remember way back when I started writing this column and ? This is the story you've been waiting for. File this under "We All Make Mistakes—Some Worse Than Others."

It was a typical Saturday night. My family was sitting at the Friday's in Rockville, as you do when you live in suburbia. Quinn, my 6-year-old, started to hiccup. It was adorable and yet they annoyed them and he wanted them to stop.

In my defense, it was his idea that I scare him.

I started simple. I would look away and ignore him for a minute, then whirl around and whisper-shout "Boo!" ending with an under arm tickle. This was not scary. This was funny to him. His giggles were even more adorable than his hiccups. We did this for a few minutes, taking advantage of the loud restaurant and our corner table to not make a scene.

To no avail. His little hiccups continued. I set about to thinking about the hiccups, while Quinn continued with his existence as a happy, hiccuping child. I was about to whirl around and try to surprise him again when a light bulb lit up over my head.

Quinn is afraid of zombies.

I know. You should start polishing my Mother of the Year trophy right now.

While Quinn was otherwise occupied, I pulled out my iPhone, typed "zombies" into Google and clicked "Images." Now, I am not a monster. I found a funny little photo of the hilarious zombie from Think Geek that you see in that photo up there. Soooo cute, right?

Seriously, people, I thought Quinn would look at it, say "Eep," make a funny face, and laugh. I swear that's how I thought it was going to go down.

I could not have been more wrong.

My timing was impeccable. I held up my phone just as Quinn swung his sweet little head around to get an eyeful of plush zombie right up in his face.

Oh my lord, you guys, he SHRIEKED. He started screaming and every head in our area of the restaurant swiveled toward us. "DELETE IT! DELETE IT!" he sobbed as he collapsed into my arms.

It worked though. His hiccups disappeared instantly.

The next few minutes were all about damage control. He felt better after I let him play with my phone (after I assured him that he would never see a zombie on it again). Later, I gave him some of my dinner. (Quinn loves him some steak.) I'm considering buying him a puppy. Or a kitten. Or some delightful hybrid of the two. By the time his ice cream came after dinner, he had completely forgiven me.

The moral of the story? Even if your child is obsessed with Plants vs. Zombies and has a good sense of humor, he will NOT enjoy being surprised by a rotting visage thrust into his face at a family restaurant.

Also? I am a terrible person.

Jean, a.k.a. Stimey, writes a personal blog at Stimeyland; an autism-events website for Montgomery County, Maryland, at AutMont; and a column called Autism Unexpected in the Washington Times Communities. You can find her on Twitter as @Stimey.

Tom Termini February 14, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Something we can agree on -- terrifying our children with zombies!
Jean Winegardner February 14, 2012 at 11:03 PM
Yay! Common ground! :)
Elaine February 15, 2012 at 03:01 AM
I'm sorry Quinn had to go through this, but tears are streaming down my face I am laughing so hard.
Jean Winegardner February 15, 2012 at 03:55 AM
I know. Imagine how I felt as I tried not to laugh as I was comforting him. It was a whole thing.
A BCPSS Parent February 15, 2012 at 03:12 PM
BWAHAHAHA!!!!!!!! This is why "joy of autism" is not a nonsensical phrase. Sure, there's a little guilt at stepping over the line, but Quinn recovered quickly and what a great story. We don't have the same level of words, so our stories are usually more about sensory issues, but they make me smile all the same. Purposely playing one wrong note on a familiar tune on the piano, at first softly as if by error, but then louder...I think of it as an auditory tickle.
Amanda Guyton February 15, 2012 at 04:02 PM
Isn't a gerbil kind of a puppy-kitten mix?
gridlocksmith (Earl Shoop) February 15, 2012 at 05:01 PM
You are not bad! We humans are good, only acting "bad" at times, due to damage... which we can recover from. Hey, it worked, right? But, some of the other diners might have preferred that you cured him after your departure. But, then it would not have been so memorable.
gridlocksmith (Earl Shoop) February 15, 2012 at 09:25 PM
BTW- If this is the worst thing (parenting-wise) that you have done... You are fabulous!!
Sue February 16, 2012 at 05:06 AM
This. is. awesome.

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