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When news broke about rapper Waka Flocka Flame sharing a video of his niece locked in a dog cage, I knew that social media would be outraged. Personally, I thought it was funny as f***. I’m not Ms. Cleo, but I bet I can tell you how it all went down. Little mama kept messing with the cage and after repeatedly being told to leave it alone, she locked herself in and then went into full toddler rage. (Waka pretty much confirms this to TMZ)

I’m not the biggest Waka Flocka fan, but I truly doubt that he’d share a video of himself abusing a child in 2016. Besides, how is Waka’s video any worse than the videos of parents punching their kids in the name of discipline? Tasteless, you bet. Harmful, not even. I’d even go as far to say that Waka Flocka’s niece is still messing with that dog cage as you read this.

This all reminds me of an evening when my mother-in-law called and began a bizarre, one-sided conversation.

“Hello police? I have some kids over here being bad. Can you please come over and get them?”

In the background little voices cried out.

“No, please, I’ll be good!”

After a few minutes of high-pitched begging for mercy, mom-in-law rescinded her request for police assistance. Now that a pick-up was no longer needed she told her young charges, she could call back if there were any more problems.

As if on cue, a siren passed in the background making the story even more believable. It was one of the most brilliant bluffs I’d ever heard used to shut down wilding kids. I’ve even borrowed part of the concept and used “baby jail” – a place where there aren’t any toys, cupcakes or YouTube –  deter my rambunctious mini-me from any more mischief. It turned out to be more frightening than a belt or switch.

“Baby jail” is a toddler version of that Beyond Scared Straight show and it worked.

I think everyone has experienced cruel tales of punishment during childhood. As a matter of fact, some of the most popular fairy tales that we read to our kids today were originally horror stories with the twisted purpose of keeping kids on the straight and narrow. Those so-called “fairy tales” were filled with bloodshed and all varieties of assault.

Remember Little Red Riding Hood? It was conceived as a cautionary tale about keeping an eye out for sexual predators. The big bad wolf was a rapist, as back in 1697, “seeing the wolf” was slang for a girl losing her virginity. These days, parents aren’t telling their younglings about rapey wolves though there are still examples of parental cautionary tales that stand the test of time.

There’s the evergreen anti-drug story about kids who bought temporary tattoos from strangers soaked in LSD. I’m sure everyone has also heard the one about the person at a party who had their drink spiked with a mystery drug and woke up missing a kidney. And of course, back in the day, we had the legendary ABC Afterschool Specials that basically taught you that horrific consequences could come from the most simple of mistakes.

Has anyone been truly psychologically scarred from these scary, do-good urban legends? Probably not because at a certain level of maturity these tales lose their power in the wake of teenage exploration. Sadly, my “baby jail” trick has already lost its power.

Last time I tried it, Liam called my bluff and said he wanted to see who was going to take him to toddler lockup. I recently came up with the “Toy Monster” who will eat his toys at night if he was being bad that day. I’ve had a good run so far, but I think I may soon need to tap some of you folks for more ideas.

What were some of the craziest stories you heard as a child that was meant to keep you in line?


Baby Jail And Other Parental Tricks  was originally published on