My hands are shaking as I write this. And if it happened to me, I’m pretty sure my bladder wouldn’t hold. Yet this is apparently something that parents do to their kids!
Wrinkles the Clown is for hire in Florida, to come to your parties, bar mitzvahs, or stagettes. Or to terrify your misbehaving children. Yes, you read that right: a professional scary clown is making a living by giving kids the scare of a lifetime. This is an interesting parenting strategy.
Recently, a Florida mom was fed up with her 12-year-old son’s misbehavior, and she hired Wrinkles to scare him. And, oh yeah, he’s terrified of clowns. Wrinkles showed up across the street from where the boy was waiting for the bus. As soon as the clown came into view, the boy started to bawl and ran home.
Wrinkles describes the boy’s mom calling him afterwards, thanking him. Wrinkles says:
“Now when he acts bad, she just has to ask him: ‘Do you want Wrinkles to come back?'”
The man who plays Wrinkles has declined to identify himself, but he claims to be a divorced and retired 65-year-old veteran who is just looking to make some extra money. Without the terrifying mask and Pennywise vibe, he seems like he could be a good guy.
Although this is a novel parenting strategy, it is not one that is recommended by psychologists. This is fear-based and threat-based parenting, where parents rely on being bigger and stronger than their kids (or in this case, having a scary clown on their side) in order to gain kids’ compliance. The problem that a parent will run into is that it’s only a matter of time before they are no longer bigger, stronger, and terrifying to their children. Not to mention the potential for lasting psychological damage.
For now, I’m just glad that I don’t live in Florida. I feel like I need most of a continent’s distance between me and Wrinkles.