I love to scare. It may include hiding in my daughter’s bed as flat as can be with the doona over my face. I may call her to come in. I hold my breath and then, “BOOOOOOO!” She screams, a dainty little sound escapes and then with a half smile she says, “DOOOON’T!”. Then we laugh.

It took my son a lot longer to enjoy being scared. I weaned him onto it. He was a nervous little man at first. When I tried it the first time he broke down, crying his heart out. It was then I knew I had to go slowly and teach him how to enjoy the experience of being surprised. I started with heavy footsteps in the hall, so he knew I was coming. Then, as his scare skin toughened, I crept. Then crawled, then tiptoed. There is an art to teaching the ‘scare’.

Now, he loves hide-and-seek. Although he gets so excited when some one is coming near that he jumps out before he can be properly discovered. Perhaps he needs to learn how to hide now? I think being scared in a safe environment by your mother is a valuable thing to experience. This ‘skin jumping’ as I call it, produces an insanely awesome sense of humour, a thicker skin and a sense of fun in the house. Anything can happen, but what WILL?

Sometimes the skin jumping is accidental. My kids are fairly light walkers when they want to be and have mastered the silent stand and stare. So, without knowing it, they are dishing out the scare to me! I shriek a girly kind of scream, as I re-swallow my heart and regain my composure. It is interesting being on the other side. Although they only get me good when they don’t mean to.

Planned scares never work. There’s way too much giggling and shuffling. It is hide-and-seek all over again. I am aware, however, that there will be a time when their scaring skills will be as advanced as mine. They, too, will wear socks to muffle footsteps and crawl around so as not to be detected too early. They will hide behind doors and curtains and boo me. I only hope that I don’t have a heart condition, for that would be the end of me.

I have Melissa McCarthy (Sookie St.James from Gilmore Girls) to blame. I remember her telling a story of her father hiding for 20 minutes under a table and then jumping out and scaring them. I thought that perhaps this contributed to her awesome sense of humour and adopted the ‘scare’ as my own.

Time will tell whether skin jumping will produce great humour in my children or make them nervy little things who have to check behind every door before relaxing in a room. I hope they will remember their childhood as Melissa did with warmth and a bit of a chuckle!!

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