I once told my kid that if he touched the red flowers on the poinsettia plant, he’d die of the Red Death.
He was three at the time and we were dining in a local restaurant. He kept playing with everything on the table: the salt, pepper, ketchup, the little breakfast jams. Stacking them, pouring them, dropping them on the floor. In other words, he was being three and it was annoying the shit out of me at the time.
So when he reached for the plant sitting on the ledge behind the table, I told him to be careful of the red flowers. His face fell, panicked, and he said, “Dad, I touched it.”
“No, you didn’t. If you did, you’d be dead and we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
Luckily, my wife understands that scaring my kids into behaving is just a part of the Brown process. I was afraid of ass-whoopings and my kids are afraid of death. Escalation, it works, folks.
Of course, that child is now a know-it-all teenager with pink braces. Every time we go to this restaurant during the holidays, he makes it his sole mission to touch as many of those red fucking flowers as he can.
“See, Dad? I’m not dead. I can touch them.”
“If you touch another one, kid, the plant won’t kill you, I will. Sit down and drink your Smug Root Beer.”
What can you do, right?
Celebrate Poinsettia Day in style… tell your kid it’ll kill ’em.