I see that Jimmy Kimmel has once again done the “tell your kids you ate all their Halloween candy, then post it so we can laugh at them!” “prank.”
I’ll be blunt: I hate these videos. I see no purpose in gaslighting a small child, then taping it so that you can humiliate them in the media. I don’t take pleasure in making my own children cry or feel betrayed, and I don’t like watching it happen to other people either. It’s not just children; I don’t like videos of adults or animals being angered, frightened, embarrassed or injured, either. I don’t find it funny.
Back to the Halloween prank. When you go trick or treating, kids get incredibly excited. They’re given a gift of the candy and a wonderful night out, and they’re excited to reap the benefits of that gift. Children feel things in extremes; hearing that their parents, who they trust, destroyed something they were overjoyed about is crushing. Why is crushing someone’s joy funny?
And then, there are the media comments–kids are spoiled brats for crying, no one NEEDS candy, the kids are obnoxious, they should be punished for being rude, etc. They’re not brats. They’re children reacting like children to having something mean done to them. They don’t deserve punishment for getting angry about being tricked. They’re not spoiled to be disappointed because someone stole something important to them. They’re not brats for crying because someone disappointed them. Yet for some reason, children aren’t allowed to have feelings without being teased or scolded. They’re not allowed to be angry, disappointed, or feel betrayed.
Imagine that someone “steals” for car keys and hides them, and then films you as you freak out because you’re late for work? Or hides your wallet? Maybe you’ve saved for months to buy a new piece of jewelry or a game console, so someone “steals” it, films your rage or sorrow, and then posts it on the interest so that everyone can tease you about your reaction. After all, you didn’t need that diamond ring, did you? Come on, it’s just a joke, what’s your problem?
Some people argue that pranks help someone develop a sense of humor. My parents never tricked or humiliated me. I find things funny. I’ve never done it to my children. They also have a great sense of humor. People played pranks on me in school, and you know what? They hurt, and they still hurt. It didn’t make me a better person. You know what did? Having a family I knew would never lie or hurt me. That’s what made me happy, not stupid pranks at my expense in the lunchroom.
I showed my daughter one of those videos and asked for her reaction. M said, “Why would they lie just to make a little kid cry? That’s bullying! You’re not supposed to bully people. Why is that supposed to be funny, when really, you’re never supposed to do that? How rude, and how mean!”
As an aside, for the people that want to ask: do I eat some of my kids’ candy? Yep. We discuss this with the kids beforehand; we made the costumes and took them out, so we get a cut. The day after Halloween, we do an activity called “candy swap.” Each child gets to pick her favorite thing and keep all of them that are in her bucket (M gets all the Almond Joys, for instance, and Little A gets all of the Tootsie rolls.) Next, the remaining candy is dumped on the table, and the whole family takes turns taking one piece for themselves, until the candy is divided evenly. Then, each family member gets a bag and gets one candy per day–yes, parents too. No one can take from anyone else’s bag without permission. Yes, parents too. Everyone gets a treat, everyone shares, and no one cries. No tricks, just treats.