We’re all human here, so sometimes we make mistakes.
Some of these mistakes are even more unintended than others and become a greater problem than expected, agreed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor Small-Elephant9195 wanted to pull a prank with his daughter on his son, just to have some fun.
But when he realized how much they had scared his son, the Original Poster (OP) second-guessed his decision to pull the prank.
He asked the sub:
“AITA for telling my wife that she needs to get over being upset with me for pulling a scare prank on our son?”
The OP was spending quality time with his daughter.
“Last Friday night, I (37 Male) was hanging out with my daughter (10 Female) watching a movie. My wife (34 Female) was working late while our son (9 Male) was hanging out with his friend.”
“Around 8:00 PM, his friend’s mom texted me, letting me know that she was driving him home. I thanked her and then let my daughter know that her brother was on his way.”
“She then suggested that we play a prank on him in which we jump out and scare him.”
“I thought it would be a funny practical joke and, long story short, she and I ended up putting on scary Halloween masks, dimming the lights, and hiding behind a couch.”
“I then texted his friend’s mom and told her that his sister and I were watching a movie and to send him to the Family Room downstairs when he got home.”
The prank did not go how the OP expected.
“He got home and came in. We heard him come in and say, ‘Hello?’ and then come down the stairs.”
“When he got close, we jumped out at him and shouted.”
“Now; here’s where I fully admit I messed up. I thought he’d just be startled for a second and then would laugh with us over the prank.”
“But that’s not what happened.”
“We ended up frightening him WAY more than I’d anticipated. He first started running off and then ended up having a HUGE, trembling, crying, adrenaline dump for a long time.”
“I felt really bad and so did his sister.”
The OP’s wife did not take this interaction well.
“His mother came home not long after and ended up sitting with him, hugging and comforting him. Naturally, she wasn’t amused by my antics which I understand because, again, I screwed up.”
“However, she has stayed mad at me for all these days afterward. She will barely talk to me.”
“I eventually got tired of it and told her that she needed to get over it. I screwed up, but I didn’t mean any harm. I just way underestimated how much our prank would scare our son.”
“I also think that our daughter is seeing how she is treating me over it and is being made to feel way too bad over her idea that was just playful; not bad-natured.”
“But she just says that I ‘should have known better’ and won’t seem to forgive me.”
The OP felt conflicted.
“I get it; she’s always been a complete mama bear. But it’s not as if I don’t love our kids, too.”
“Was my prank honestly so beyond that pale that I deserve to keep being punished over it?”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some agreed with the wife and thought the OP owed his son an apology.
“YTA. It was night time and your kid was looking forward to seeing his family when coming home, and you potentially traumatized him instead. Your intentions don’t mean anything here.”
“Common sense says you should’ve known better, so I agree with your wife there, too.”
“Maybe instead of trying to make excuses or defend your actions, you help your son work through what happened, since it sounds like your wife has been the one who has had to.” – hauntedfruit
“YTA. Yes, you should have known better.”
“Sure, you’ve apologized, but your wife sounds fed up that there are three people acting like children in the house instead of two children and two adults who are supposed to look after them.”
“She can’t be the only one left to make sensible decisions, that’s not fair to her or your kids.”
“Plus, I really don’t understand pranksters. Why is inflicting fear into a nine-year-old funny?” – stophittingthyself
“YTA. Pranks are awful. They are reliant on someone being the butt of the prank with the ultimate aim of people laughing at their discomfort. It’s also about the fact you have added more emotional labor and work for your wife to sort out because you are teaching your daughter to laugh at other people’s expense.”
“People say they never mean harm when it comes to pranks, but how can they not be harmful when they are reliant on someone else discomfort or upset or humiliation for them to work? Be the adult and don’t add more labor for her to fix.” – Top_Barnacle9669
“Firstly, people are waking up to pranks just being s**tty behavior so please don’t teach bad habits to your daughter that will make her school friends hate her.”
“Secondly, look up emotional labor and read some articles. She’s mad because you’re being another task she has to deal with instead of someone who is helping her. You’re an adult, step it up.” – Mmm_hummus
But others thought the prank had accidentally gone too far and that was all.
“NTA. At face value, it was a prank that was suggested by your ten-year-old daughter and it sounds typical: hide, then jump out and scare him.”
“His reaction was probably because he was over-tired from a big day with his friend. Unless there is more you’re not telling us, I think it’s pretty standard.”
“Cue all the people that want to turn this into an ‘unleashing of trauma’ rant.” – Holdthecaffeine
“NTA. A prank backfired and went wrong, which yeah, you’re TA for, but holy s**t, people make mistakes. You were just trying to have fun and it didn’t end well. Does she really need to dwell on it for days?”
“I say next time she screws up somehow, give her the silent treatment for days, and constantly tell her she screwed up and should have known better, and see how she likes you beating the dead horse for days on end.” – Plum_Potato
“NTA. This is a pretty basic prank. He’s nine years old, so I also would have thought he would’ve just had a start of surprise and then would have kind of giggled. Halloween masks are usually pretty obvious.”
“I could understand your wife being upset for this long if you did it knowing he reacted that way, but you didn’t. And from your comments, you did try to comfort him.” – PettyWhite81
“NTA. It was a joke and you were bonding with your kids. How could you have known he’d react like that? Maybe your wife telling you it was too far would have been reasonable, but giving you the silent treatment is just childish.” – rothrowlingcollins
Some pointed out that everyone was trying their best during a scary misunderstanding.
“NAH because you’re asking about the situation with your wife, not the prank itself. People are judging the prank, not telling your wife it’s time for you to get out of the dog house so everyone can move on.”
“You recognize you messed up, and you’ve apologized. As a father of three boys, I’ve messed up plenty. So has my wife. If we held grudges against each other for our f**kups, we and our children would be miserable.”
“Now is the time for you and your wife to both model what adults do when they make mistakes; you apparently have, and now it’s your wife’s turn. Silent treatments and passive-aggressiveness are not what mature people do. She needs to let it go.”
“I won’t say she’s the AH as it seems like she’s coming from a good place (mama bear and all), but she is modeling poor adulting and will be an AH if she doesn’t figure out how to move on.” – wictbit04
“NAH. My mother told me one day that she saw a mouse in the basement bathroom and then a few days later, I knew she was on the computer down there, and I just went down to ask her something.”
“On the way, I realized she hadn’t heard me, so I crept behind her and said eek eek eek! and she turned around, looked me dead in the eye, and started screaming over and over and over long after she knew it was me. That is how scared she was, and of course, I was in utter shock and felt horrible!”
“My dad heard her from upstairs somewhere and came racing down to see what had happened. It was terrible!”
“And that was when I realized that you never know the outcome of a scare prank and that it could be as bad as causing a heart attack. I won’t ever forget that. I will never do it again and I’m pretty sure that you probably won’t, either.”
“Your wife, however, is feeling the trauma that her son is going through, and she may logically understand that you didn’t mean any harm, but right now, she’s a little traumatized on his behalf, and I think you need to give her some space to deal with it.”
“She may be wondering if she can trust your judgment from now on. I mean, there’s probably a lot of questions and concerns going through her mind that she needs to work out.”
“Maybe you could be a little more supportive about it and say listen, I’m so sorry. This was a huge error of judgment on my part and I want to make it right. What can I do to help? If you need time okay. If you have another idea, I’m glad to listen and open to anything.”
“You could also mention that your daughter is not doing well as a result either, and you’re worried about her as well. Is there any way that you guys can heal as a family (because this is happening, and now you have to deal with the reality of the situation)?”
“Just do not be defensive, and do not guilt trip her for taking her time here -just be nothing but supportive and sorry. This is unquestionably a lesson learned the hard way.” – Orphan_Izzy
“NAH. It sounds like you really f**ked up by way of underestimating your kid’s reaction, but it also sounds like a one-off thing. You apologized and tried to comfort your son, and you learned from your mistake. Even parents f**k up at times.”
“Have you attempted to see why your son had a much stronger reaction than you thought he would have?? Something may be going on.” – scubagalrd
“NAH. The joke didn’t land, apologize and move on. Your wife sounds overprotective. Nothing REALLY happened. Everyone should get over it because it’s really not a big deal.” – Reefermaniabruther
The subReddit could all understand how the OP and his daughter had tried to have a fun time with the OP’s son, only for it to backfire, but they were much more divided on how the outcome of the prank was being handled in the home.
Some felt an apology from the OP would be simple enough, while others thought the accidental scare would fade on its own because it had been unintentionally scary.
The reminder everyone in the home probably needs is that being kind costs nothing, and sometimes when something unexpectedly goes wrong, you do what you can to make sure everyone feels comfortable again.