During a visit to Central Park this week with my class I became suddenly jolted out of my playtime reverie by the loud shouting of a teacher from another school marching towards two elementary school children angrily informing them that "the cops are on their way!"
"Good Lord", thought I, "I wonder what happened?".
Turns out it was a scare tactic, used for dramatic effect I am certain, to stress the utter disregard of these two boys in staying within the specified boundaries of the playground. They had wandered off onto the rocks which were clearly off limits!
I didn't follow up to see how long these boys waited before they realized this was an empty threat or if they even believed it in the first place. But, this encounter did make me wonder about all the hyped up stories adults tell to little ones.
"If you cross your eyes they will get stuck that way."
"If you eat the watermelon seeds one will grow in your stomach."
"If you get out of bed the boogie man will snatch you away."
I'm sure we all have heard some variation of these. At what point do we realize it is all formulated BS to keep us in line? How do these 'frights' stay with us as adults? What keeps us in line nowadays?