My name is Booth Johnson, but the neighborhood children call me Old Man Johnson. They scuff up my lawn, throw pebbles at my window, ring my doorbell and run away, and stand on my sidewalk singing Old Man songs (that one about knick-knack paddy-whack is particularly galling). They know I don't like them, because I've got a windchime on my porch that's made of cardboard cut-outs of these kids, with pins and things in their eyes and their hair all mussed up with crickets and boogers.
I know, I know, people say children are our future, or compare them to bundles of joy, little lambs, or to wee angels doing all of us a big friggin' favor by coming in for a landing on Mother Earth. But there's one big problem, aside from that lamb thing being particularily creepy. More and more of these things are selfish little snivelling BABIES.That's right. "Blessed are the children" my ass. If I yell at them for trashing my rose bushes, or come at them fast for tearing my mail in two and doing what they call "the confetti dance", they don't stand up to me or give as good as they get. No sir, that's beyond the pale for these pampered spoonfed sissies. What happens when I admonish these cowards with just a touch of fuck-you in my voice is that they start up with the crying and screaming, and run home to make up something really bad about me. All this does is get the adults riled up, who then come visit me - usually in pairs - to "give me a talking to", and I have to waste my time showing them the marks on my porch where the eggs hit. Marks that never come off.
What I can't do is show them the marks on my soul. They can't see the scabbed-over damage clawed into it by kids who gave me Indian burns and armpit smudges until I forked-over my lunch money. Indelible marks made when I played with ants and the neighborhood bully came along and clapped a brick on them. And more marks caused when they tied me to the back of a billboard and then threw my schoolbooks into the grease pit down by the gas station. You see, I know children well, too well. I had enough of them early on. But lately it seems every time I look up, there's a new one!
Between you and me, I'll never understand why these children's parents don't just drive them accidently into a lake, or leave them wailing on a church doorstep so a gaggle of neurotic never-been-kissed nuns can ooh-and-ahh over them. But sadly, too many parents have been socially brainwashed, domesticated, and hypnotized to care for their offspring. So it looks like I'm stuck with several more rug rats a year joining the mob of schoolchildren who greet me on my afternoon walk, usually by name and with mocking venom in their voices.
Excuse me a minute. "Hey, Sally, GET OFF MY LAWN!!!"
Well, luckily for us normal grown-ups, who have to live with these noisy creatures chasing about, we don't have to just sit back and take it. We can have a bit of fun. We can scare the crap out of them!
edit Step 1. Locate an innocent child
Ah, the joy of the hunt. One of the first places I look when I go out to find an innocent child, one that still has a twinkle in its eye and lets out a melodic little giggle when it sees a butterfly or some other nonsense, is a watering hole. I go down to the public swimming pool to check out the wading pond and scout around the edges where the geeks sell popcorn and soda pop. Children will be there somewhere, believe you me, either peeing in the water or spending their parent's money on sugar and salt.
Then sometimes I'll take a walk and find a kid dangling from a tree, disturbing merchandise in a toy store, or riding a pony at the zoo. They're attracted like flies to ice-cream trucks, and wherever there's candy being sold you can find one hovering nearby with its mouth watering. Then call me lucky or call me smart, but I discovered that one of the easiest places to find children is near the back fence of a daycare center, where few if any minimum wage workers really bother to keep an eye on them.
Honestly, you can find a few of them anywhere. They're multipling so fast that not even Santa Freakin' Claus can keep track of them all.
edit Step 2. Better to pick a girl
I've found it's best to frighten small children one-on-one, and not in groups. That way their fear is centralized. I suggest choosing a girl. Mother Nature gives them more common sense in their sugar-and-spice brainpan than boys have, and so they have an extra instinct layer tucked up in there that can be used to scare them properly. And from some reading I've done over at the library - by the way, you can spot a few smarty pants children there too if you've got a keen eye - little boys can usually "put-on-the-tuff" a few moments longer than girls can. This is important, because sometimes you only have a few seconds to get your point across.
edit Step 3. Gain their trust
Alright, you've chosen one. Now you've got to be cautious. Nowadays, due to the TV box and those pictures of loser kids on milk cartons, parents are paranoid and afraid to let their old-age meal tickets out of their sight. So these emotionally suffocated spoiled brats have been taught to bite, scream, or kick you in the dangly bits when you try to talk to them. You've got to adapt, and you've got to be strategic.
A word of advice. Don't come up on them too quickly. I made that mistake a few times, and have the shin bruises to prove it. Instead, display a calm confidence when you make your approach. If you are even slightly nervous, the child can tell. They have some kind of built-in ESP or GPS or something that goes into overdrive around puberty, so you want to catch them before that.
Okay, to keep them quiet, and gain their trust, bring along a few sweets, a cuddly puppy, or a fluffy bunny. Children are biologically hardwired to respond well to sweet, cuddly, and fluffy. So use their own brains against them - but gently, and in moderation. Tykes get easily overwhelmed, and you don't want them running away screaming or sitting down on the ground in their own puddle of tears or some[[wikipedia:Saliva|thing. At least not yet.
I've also learned this step the hard way, so I'm saving you some trouble here. When, not if, some busybuddy nanny-state citizen sees you talking to the child, you are soon going to hear sirens. Don't try to evade the police, as hiding behind something or running away only gets their blood boiling. Just stay where you are and wait. When "The Man" drives up he'll eye you suspiciously, saunter over while watching your hands, and then question your cover story. Just smile, say "Yes sir, officer", shake your head up and down like you're listening, and give him a big grin. Even with all this politeness and faux subservience, when he finds out what you've done he will rough you up before taking you to the station to obtain your prints, retina scan, and that infamous but strangely enjoyable DNA swab. So when you see that crazy look in his eyes - when it all starts to go south - just duck and cover, protect the face.
But you know what? This encounter with the law is a neccesary price you have to pay, and it will occur well after the fact. Because soon after befriending the child, and long before the cops arrive, here is what you do.
edit Step 5. Show the child these pictures!
Yes! Show the child these pictures! Just show the child these pictures and tell them what they are!!!
- The kitten's dinner seems frightened too, yes?