Can someone please explain to me how it is that I came to be the least scary person in my children’s lives? I don’t understand it: I’m the one who yells at them, who threatens them, who takes away all the things they hold dear (and the controllers to those things), and all of this for “absolutely no reason whatsoever.” I’m the one who is “crazy,” “pathetic,” a “control freak,” “anal retentive,” and “clueless.” (And those are just the PG ones.) I’m the one who, “seriously, just needs to chill out.” And yet, when it comes to asking for favors, I am somehow still the least threatening person on the planet.
I’m less threatening than the girl behind the counter, apparently. Somehow the fear of coming back to me empty-handed shrinks away into nothing when compared to the fear of asking a cheerful counter girl for a to go box. And I’m less scary than some random guy on the sidewalk: it’s better to come back to me and straight up lie about whether or not someone was in possession of a timepiece than it is to simply ask a stranger if they have the time.
It’s also less scary to call me up late at night and ask for a ride than it is to accept the ride your friend’s parent offered you, as it is less scary to ask me to drive all the way back across town to retrieve your homework than it is to call up your friend and ask them to bring it with them to school tomorrow.
Of course, I’m not the only thing that is less scary then some of these (apparently) terrifying scenarios. For some reason it is also less scary to watch a scary movie or play a violent video game then it is to ask a teacher to accept a late assignment. Even though I’m pretty sure most teachers don’t react to those types of questions with the kind of murderous rage that can be found in said movies and games—I mean, it’s not like the teacher is going to pull out an enormous axe so that they can chop you up and/or then set you on fire. (Something the characters in these games and movies do with surprising frequency. It’s a bit of overkill, if you ask me—from the way most movie killers work it can be assumed that they are used to being paid by the hour. No one on salary would ever work so inefficiently.) To me, that’s scary. And yet, to my children, all that pales in comparison to asking where the bathroom is.
Of course, maybe that is the real question. Not why it is that huge, inefficient axe murderers (and angry mothers) aren’t scary enough, but rather why someone sitting behind an information desk is. Or better yet, since there are some questions (especially those concerning the teenage psyche) we will probably never know the answer to, perhaps the best question of all is: how do I make these phobias work for me?
If I was a movie maker the answer would be obvious: forget having the creepy little girl hiding under the bed, and instead replace her with a cute boy you have to ask to borrow a pencil from. But it gets more complicated on my end: there’s probably something illegal (and more than a little creepy) about asking the “terrifying” hostess at the local pizza joint to come over and tell your kids it’s time to start studying for their math final. And there’s no way you’re going to get the scary “man with no watch” to come ask them when they ever plan on getting around to cleaning their rooms.
But the giant axe guy just might have an opening for the holidays.