Last week as I was roaming through my Facebook newsfeed I came upon a young man, a barber somewhere, and he had a little boy up in the barber’s booster chair. The barber had scissors in one hand and the other hand was cupped over the child’s left ear. Blood appeared to be oozing out from the barber’s fingers and running down the child’s cheek. The child was shrieking in fear and I suppose the father was somewhere behind the camera. The barber had apparently told the child that he had mistakenly cut off his ear. And something in the caption indicated that Dad was in on the joke. My first thought was how horrible!! And the next thought was this child will someday be sitting in my office! What a hideous joke to play on a little boy.
I am well aware that many men feel that their sons need to be toughened up a bit along the way to adulthood or they will get picked on during their school years. Nobody wants a Momma’s boy!! And I also know that laughter and making fun of one’s children is a common practice in many families. Fathers especially seem to play this role. But are these people who raise their children this way aware that practical jokes and ridicule are covers for the perpetrator’s anger on some issue? It is a bit like the clown that is always smiling, cavorting, making people laugh while crying behind his make-up.
This type of practical joke is really another side of bullying. And if the family is supposed to be the safe place for each individual as they grow to maturity, what is the message from this father to his son? Can the child trust his father even after he grows old enough to understand the joke? And think of the many times this joke will be told in the family and with family friends and the child will feel diminished inside every time it is told. Do children really need this type of toughening up?
Having listened to the hurts and heartaches of other people for over thirty years I can just imagine that the father who was wielding the camera may have been unconsciously angry that his little son was the first born and made it necessary for the father to take a second job, or give up a sport that was loved, because there was no longer extra money. This father may have unconsciously been getting even with a father who did similar things to him, causing him to always feel a little anxious about life. There are many possible scenarios; these are just a few. (Do remember that the barber was the father’s friend and simply the instrument for the father’s joke.)
When you get to read my first book A Bird and the Dragon: Their Love Story: A Memoir you will come to the part of the story where my second husband, Sy and I are courting. It is early in our relationship and we are seated in a restaurant hidden behind our menus and my not-yet-husband says, “Don’t you think maybe we should stop seeing so much of each other?” I am devastated and I’ll let you read to find out what I do. But I know now having lived 35 years with this man that when I met him he was hurting through every inch of his self-worth from a wife who ran around on him, so playing a joke on a new potential partner was just an extension of that first disastrous marriage. I did make it clear that I could not live with that kind of humor and again I say you will have to read to see the outcome.
My bottom line in this blog is: Please think before you belittle or make fun of your children. Is the laugh something that will help the child or does it release you from some repressed resentment?
If you have anything you’d like to discuss concerning families and raising children please feel free to contact me through my website www.jessiemaykessler.com. Once there, you can look around and then if you want to talk to me hit the CONTACT button and we’ll get together.