As soon as I got home last Sunday, Midge told me about the prank her 8th grade cousin T-Money (we actually call him that, it goes on birthday cards and everything) and Bean played on him. That's another long-standing family tradition. Usually one of the kids gets pranked and depending on how good it is, you might still be laughed at about it twenty years down the road as you're trying to enjoy some Thanksgiving dinner. I'm going to give you a little back story here. Midge's great fear is severe weather. We knew we were screwed when we got a call when she was in kindergarten from her teacher, saying she freaked out so badly at the fire drill that she actually had to be carried out of the school. She's never been a fan of chaos nor situations her very Type A personality is unable to control. The one thing none of us can control is that temperamental bitch Mother Nature and that really, really doesn't sit well with poor Midge. Whenever the severe alert buzzes on the tv, she'd panic and tremble and it was generally a bad scene here until the threat has passed. She has gotten better over the years, but she still has her moments. At Banana's graduation party a few weeks ago, the skies got green and the sirens blew and she had to be talked off the proverbial ledge in my aunt's basement. Cake didn't even help. Just two weeks ago, she was actually banned from watching Tom Skilling at night because she came downstairs at 10:30, a quivering, visibly distraught, tears-in-her-eyes mess over an unstable air mass that posed a threat of potential severe weather the next day. So much like I was told I couldn't read Stephen King books before bed at her age if I was checking the closet for Pennywise the clown, Midge got herself banned from bedtime weather reports. Ahem.
I have to say, the prank her sister and cousin executed was a stroke of evil genius. Let me emphasize, it was pretty evil considering they both know how acutely she reacts to bad weather. They both woke up, and decided it would be hilarious to darken the room while Midge slept. They somehow managed to stifle their laughter before waking her, urgent voices breaking her sleep telling her that she had to get up and they had to take cover because there was a tornado warning. She panicked and freaked out before she was awake enough to realize her cousin and sister were cracking up and had gotten her ass good. She was dismayed when she told me about it, contempt in her voice and giving Bean serious side-eye as Bean could barely contain her triumphant snicker. She said she doesn't mind being pranked but she felt that prank crossed the line because she picked the one thing that scares the living shit (my words) out of her and used it against her. I did tell Bean that it was actually a little mean and pranks aren't fun anymore if they are mean and prey on someone's fears. I could tell by the look on her face she didn't really care what I thought and that's fine. Kids all learn these things on their own time.
I decided to help along the process when opportunity presented itself and Miss Bean learned today.
I was at my aunt's today helping her move some furniture around and she asked me if I had heard about the prank. I said that yes, I had. She offered that she thought it was a mean prank and she thought it was terrible. I agreed. While we were down in the basement (the one we took shelter in a few weeks ago in the middle of the party, which I am sure was the inspiration for the now infamous prank), I went over to the window to wipe down the sill, and there I had my own stroke of evil genius. I picked it up gently and called up the stairs for Bean to come help me real quick. She came down and I told her I had some trash I'd like her to throw away for me. I held my closed hand out for her and she responded by extending her arm and opening the palm of her hand. I then deposited a lesson in it for her.
|Say hello to my little friend. Don't worry, it's dead.|
The next ten seconds or so were so perfect that I almost saw them in slow motion. First, the color drained from my already fair-complected little ginger's face and her lips parted as she gasped. Her blue eyes darted up and met mine as I smiled at her. Her long fingers began to tremble ever so slightly as she managed to form the word "Mom" as she realized that yes, I put a bee in the palm of her hand. At this point the tremble spread from her fingers to her hand, as she began to pant. The tremble finally worked it's way up her arm as she found her voice and it built into a crescendo of a wail. She eventually shook the bee off her hand as she turned and darted her little ass right up the stairs, shrieking the whole way.
I picked the bee up off the floor as my aunt and I laughed and I threw it in the garbage. I let her sit upstairs for a few minutes and stew before I went up. As I climbed the stairs, I saw her sitting at the kitchen table, eyes on me the whole time. When I reached the top, I made my point. I said, "Hey, Bean, you didn't like my prank?"
She shook her head and looked at me and I knew she knew what was coming next.
"Do you mean to tell me you don't think it's funny when someone plays a prank on you and it actually scares you?"
"No, Mom, it wasn't funny. It scared me. I didn't know it was dead."
"Oh," I replied, "do you mean like when you woke up Midge telling her there was a tornado and she didn't know there actually wasn't one? Weird. I thought you'd think it was funny."
At that point, she turned to her sister and told her she was sorry, which is something that had I made her do it when I was relayed the story, would definitely not have been sincere. This one was. Mission accomplished.
Sometimes you've got to go with efficacy over ethics if you want the lesson to stick.