Folks, we don’t take a lot of pleasure in it, but occasionally we frighten the living daylights out of our two-year-old Granddaughter; we may be laughing at/with her, but it’s not fun, it’s our job.
We take it very seriously too.
In fact, we started before she was able to even sit up properly with a little game called, ‘Peek-a-Boo!’ This is a seemingly harmless game, where loving adults traumatise a naïve baby into believing it has been abandoned, again, and again.
Eventually, the horror of this wore off, so when she got a little older, we unleashed the granddaddy of all childhood frights on her: Jack-in-the-Box. On the appointed day, we set the trigger, then handed the delightfully coloured little box over to her. She quickly learned that turning the handle made the box play music (‘Pop Goes the Weasel!’), unfortunately, she was the only human in the room who didn’t know that all hell was about to break loose, and at very close range.
Note: unlike some sadistic grandparents we didn’t smirkingly encourage junior to get really close to the lid as the Jack-in-the-Box finale drew near.
So there she sat, proudly cranking the little wire handle and occasionally looking up at us for approval, when suddenly, the music stopped and POP! A scary looking doll exploded out of the lid directly into her face.
Now not only is this an effective way of checking if your baby has a strong heart, it’s also their very first lesson in mistrust, doubt, caution and suspicion.
They’ve just learned that, even in the safety of their own home, with a loving, smiling, adult, or three, in attendance (one of them possibly filming this auspicious occasion) danger lurks closer than you think. In their tiny skulls, neurons make a link, i.e.: when big people give you something and stand round grinning with expectant looks, check the fine print.
It’s just one of many more daunting lessons on her long road to independence (which she’ll hopefully achieve before forty), and one she’ll solemnly, lovingly and possibly laughingly, pass onto her own offspring.