A Child's Guide to Psychological Torture and Abuse
Congratulations on your birth and welcome to the world. I think you'll find it a pretty amazing place, but only if you rule it and those you in your social orbit. Ideally, those poor saps will do your bidding anytime, any place, all the time, and to your specifications, as if you are Oprah. They will do it fast, and they will do it now. Not only will you get what you want, when you want it, it will be just truckloads of fun watching them frantically run around like chipmunks on caffeinated steroids while you bark orders at them.
I will tell you up front, however, that size, strength, and weaponry are not on your side. You will soon notice that you are indeed a pip-squeak and that the adults in your life can physically pick you up, move you around, and if necessary, wrestle you to the ground. That is their trump card. Their achilles heel, however, is that they think you are cute, and they are bound by the rules of reason, logic, and civilized behavior. You can use this. You don't think they are cute (they have acne and wrinkles and cellulite and body odor), and you have no concern for civilization, except as something that must be destroyed. Your mission is dictatorship, pure and simple. In other words, these adults can fairly easily be manipulated to do your bidding, and although clever acting and emotional appeals can be very effective, your best weapon is just brute psychological torture. In this manual, I will show you how to do this. With any luck, by the time you are 18, your parents will be catatonic shells, and you will get all their money. In the meantime, you will get a bunch of other stuff that you want. And even stuff you never really wanted but just wanted to see if you could get. And more stuff you didn't even ask for but they got it for you anyway hoping you would shut up and leave them alone. Never shut up, and never leave them alone, I don't care what kind of awesome crap they come home from Target with.
So here are some specific strategies:
1) Obviously, lots of screaming and crying, and before you can talk, this is all you can really do. But it doesn't get much more effective, so you'll be just fine. It is a sight to behold to watch the adults scramble when you melt down, like a bunch of insects when you lift up the rock they are all living under. They cannot handle it. Of course you are going to cry when you're hungry and wet and tired, but they'll figure those things out. They key is to cry FOR NO REASON AT ALL and to keep going when they have exhausted every possibility. That's pure gold. When you get old enough to talk, you can pair your meltdowns with absolute ridiculousness, like I wanted to leave 4 cheerios floating in my milk but I wasn't paying attention and ate too many and now there are only 3 cheerios in my milk. When they throw another cheerio in there, start screaming even harder and claim that it just isn't the same thing and they didn't give you a chance to try to vomit up the other cheerio first.
2) When you do learn to talk, talk incessantly. It doesn't have to make any sense. But you don't want to just talk nonsense to yourself all the time, because then they will zone out and enjoy the peace of their own brain. You want to pepper your babbling with some questions for them. That way, they really can't ever zone out. If they don't hear your questions or ignore your questions, go back to the crying thing. In general, you want to ask questions that can't be answered, either because they are not age appropriate (Why are you taking that pill?) or can't be answered by most adults (How do you do brain surgery?) or, best of all, questions that can't be answered BECAUSE THEY MAKE NO SENSE. Some examples include:
Why is our house made out of legos before sunrise?
Why don't the green fairies take a cheese bath after they wake me up to go to sleep?
Why don't I like chicken nuggets today where the princess lives?
Why does poop look like a rainbow but the grass is wet?
If you ask these types of questions, the adults will not know where to start. If they do attempt an answer, such as "Our house isn't made out of legos," you can then scream, "I said BEFORE sunrise!!!" Eventually they will give up and just say they don't know, at which point go completely ballistic and insist they DO know, they just aren't telling you.
3) Argue any and every point. Refuse to believe any fact presented. If you ask an honestly curious question and get an actual answer that is true and make sense, reject it out of hand. Make up your own facts just like they do in political campaigns. If the sky is blue, insist that it is green. If your mother asks you to put on shoes, claim you don't own any. If the earth's climate is changing and glaciers are melting, argue the other side until the earth is covered in sea water. Never give in. You can win every single argument if you refuse to acknowledge reality. Belief in logic and facts is a fatal weakness that all (OK, most) grown-ups possess.
4) Make everything a silly game. When your parents want you to do something, like get dressed or brush your teeth, pretend they actually want to play chase or tag or Australian football. Or just that you have been named as the host of a late night talk show for toddlers. Laugh like a banshee. When they get mad, laugh even harder. When their heads explode and their brains splatter onto the ceiling, get all pretend remorseful and claim you were only trying to light up their lives with giggles and smiles and you are so vewwy sowwy Mommy (pathetic sad face).
5) Pretend you don't want ANYTHING. Make yourself incorruptible on the bribery front. You know, like an American politician. Whatever they offer you, you don't want it, they can keep it, whatever. If you are offered Star Wars toys, claim you don't even like Star Wars. If they bring up the fact that you have been making a light saber out of everything from a fork to a tampon you found in your mother's bathroom, act like your parents are insane. Oh, and then ask them what that tampon thing is.
5a) On a related theme--screen time. Be a complete addict most of the time and go in to seizures when they turn it off, as if you are coming off heroin. However, when they actually want you to watch TV--when they have other adults they want to talk to, when they want to sleep, when they have things they want to get done--show absolutely no interest in anything but clinging to their legs and saying "Mommy" 8,000 times in succession. Make them BEG you to watch something, ANYTHING on some kind of device.
6) When it comes to food, keep them on their toes. Say you like broccoli, then when your mother cooks it for you, yell, "EWWWW!!!" and give it to the dog. When your mother urges you to try one bite of something, take a bite so small you would need a microscope to detect its existence. Then say you actually do like it. Then refuse to eat any more of it. Mix things up. Make your favorite food bean burritos but then refuse to eat any been burrito that doesn't come from Taco Bell. When you are offered a Taco Bell bean burrito, insist that it did NOT come from Taco Bell and stand firm in the face of irrefutable proof, such as being driven through the Taco Bell drive through and being handed a burrito (see #3).
7) Limit your parents' sleep as much as possible. This is really foundational to everything else, as sleep-deprived individuals are more easily driven to nervous breakdown. Obviously, this is child's play when you are a baby, it comes with the territory. But keep it going as you grow up. By year 4 or 5, when you totally know better, come in their room every morning at 5 am and jump on the bed shrieking with delight. If they get mad, tell them you had a bad dream and start crying. If they offer you anything in exchange for peace and quiet, see #5.
With all these strategies, and many others that I'm sure you will think of yourself, your goal is to create for your parents what psychologists call the "double bind." thefreedictionary.com says this is
A psychological impasse created when a person perceives that someone in a position of power is making contradictory demands, so that no response is appropriate.
Yep, nailed it. Make it so your parents cannot win no matter what. Hopefully they won't remember that they are actually the ones in a position of power. That's what the sleep deprivation is for. Good luck. And remember, if you are ever in doubt about how to behave, just watch some Real Housewives of Wherever on TV, and that should clear things up. Or watching the proceedings of Congress on C-span would also be good.