My child wants to stab somebody and I’m a little concerned.

Out of respect for that child – and fear of losing future playdates – let’s call the child, “Sylvia.”

The other day my boyfriend, Scott, was in the playroom with the kids and “Sylvia” said very matter-of-factly, “I feel like stabbing someone.”

Scott shot “Sylvia” a look of horror.

Sylvia saw the look and said “Uh-oh.  Am I in trouble?”

Scott, that hippie man of mine, didn’t want to get “Sylvia” in trouble for sharing her “feelings” – even if they were about maiming someone – and calmly said “No.  You’re not in trouble.  I am curious though…are you angry about something?”

“No.  I just really feel like stabbing someone.”

He sat “Sylvia” down and explained to her why stabbing is bad.  It’s not right.  It could really hurt someone.  And saying you want to “stab someone” means you want to cause someone a lot of pain.  “Do you see why stabbing is wrong?  You don’t really want to stab someone, do you?”

“I still want to stab someone.”

Scott was out of his league so he brought “Sylvia” to me.  I was in my room folding laundry and he said  “Sylvia has something to tell you.”  Standing at the foot of my bed covered in folded laundry, I could only see the top of Sylvia’s head as she said “I really want to stab someone.”

“Pardon me?” I said.

“I really want to stab someone.”

Was my kid some kind of psychopath?   Maybe she was just expressing emotions of anger.  In a world where our children are bombarded daily with easily remedied violence in the media, this was normal, right?

We’re told we shouldn’t engage our children if they say “I hate you” or “I wish you were dead” or “I want to kill you.” Did Sylvia’s laissez-faire attitude toward “stabbing someone” fall under that category?  Do I punish her for her feelings?  Squelch her freedom of speech?  I mean, wasn’t she entitled to “feel” like she “wanted” to stab someone just as long as she knew she wasn’t supposed to actually stab someone?  Hey, I’m divorced, I have an ex, I’ve been there.

So I said to her “Why do you want to stab someone?”

“See Scott????  I told you if we told her she’d want to know “why”?”  Sylvia was pissed.

I looked at Scott.  Yes.  Sylvia was a psychopath.

Scott, standing arms length away from Sylvia, said “Sarah…Sylvia didn’t want to tell you she wanted to stab someone because she knew you’d ask her “why” and she has no idea “why”.

“Oh.  Well, Sylvia, do you know what “stabbing” means?”

Sylvia made an “I told you so” face to Scott and was silently tilting and jabbing the head in my direction.  Like I was the problem.

Scott explained to me that in their previous discussion in the playroom, “Sylvia” and he discussed what “stabbing” meant, why it was wrong, and that she didn’t know “why” she felt this way.  She only knew she wanted to stab someone.  I could see she was frustrated.

Not really knowing what to do, and trying really hard not to freak out, especially since…well, she hadn’t actually stabbed anybody – and because letting your children express their emotions is supposed to be a “good” thing, or so they say – I said the only reasonable thing I could think of.

I asked “Are you going to stab someone?”


“You know you shouldn’t.”


“Yes.  I know.  But I still want to.”

“Do you want to talk about anything?

She was totally exasperated with me. “Noooooooo!”

“Alright.  But you’re not going to…uh..stab someone?”


“Okay then.” I shrugged.  “You can go.”  As she walked out of the room I added “You can talk to me if you figure out why you want to stab someone!”

“Yeah.  I know!”  She shouted from down the hall.

I’m not sure if I handled the situation the right way or if I should take her in for psychiatric evaluation, but I think I did okay.  After all…no one’s bleeding.

But maybe I’ll only give her plastic knives just in case.


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Sarah is a comedian, freelance writer, and the founder of "Mommy Lite" (www.MommyLiteOnline.com), a parenting humor site. Her work has appeared in Los Angeles Magazine, on More.com, ParentsAsk.com, DivineCaroline.com, Shine.com, and TheWellMom.com. She has appeared at The Comedy Store in Hollywood, The Hollywood Improv and Stand-Up New York. Sarah is the creator and co-author of "The Bridesmaid’s Guerrilla Handbook" (Berkley Books) and her second non-fiction humor book, "Got Milf? The Modern Mom's Guide to Feeling Fabulous, Looking Great and Rocking a Minivan," will be out in Spring 2011. Sarah lives in Los Angeles with her ten year old daughter, six year old boy/girl twins and three ridiculously overweight guinea pigs.

12 responses to “Stabbing is Bad”

  1. Marni Grossman says:

    I think that this will one day become an adorable anecdote to tell “Sylvia’s” boyfriends.

    My friend Christina said that her mother once told her that she’d threatened to burn the house down. She’d wanted to do something and her mother wouldn’t let her do it so she said “fine. I’ll just burn the house down. Then you’ll see how much I wanted to do it.”

    Christina thought the story was disturbing but her mother just laughed. “It was adorable!” she said.

  2. Irene Zion says:


    I’m only guessing here, but it sounds like a metaphor for “I’m really feeling angry.”
    If she actually didn’t know why, that could be really frustrating, not being able to identify the source of her anger.
    If she knew why she was angry, but she didn’t want to say, or she didn’t know how to say it, well, perhaps you might ask her if something or someone is making her feel angry.
    This could very well be a funny story one day to use against potential sub-par suitors, but right now, it’s a bit of a concern.
    You didn’t mention what age-group she is in, but from the looks of your picture, (you look about 18?) she must be pretty young.

  3. Anon says:

    I guess about a year ago, when she was just about four, my daughter spontaneously asked me (while brushing teeth, no less – all foamy-mouthed), “Daddy, is it okay to break bad guys’ necks?” I swear I hadn’t talked about anything in front of her and she sure as hell wasn’t getting that from her single budgeted hour of TV (usually “Little Einsteins” or nice-nice stuff like that). Homicidal tendencies are innate, it seems.

    Of course, I’m sort of regretting teach her that chin jab now….

  4. Joe Daly says:

    If I ever realize my secret dream of overseeing a large criminal empire, I would very much like to hire your daughter as sort of a bodyguard/right hand woman type deal. We can use people like her in our organization!

    Funny piece- thanks for the great read!

  5. Sarah Maizes says:

    Joe – her minion nickname is “Flip Flop”. She’s a mercenary, so feel free to submit your terms.

    Irene, don’t worry…I know it’s a sign of anger. Hence the line of questioning. It’s also very “Sylvia.” She’s 6 (7 next Thursday) and she’s a pistol. They like to talk about death at that age. It fascinates them. And I’m 43. But thanks for thinking I’m 18.

    Anon, maybe we should introduce the two in a cage match. 🙂

  6. Slade Ham says:

    I imagine my ex’s mother having a similar conversation with her when she was younger.

    I hope yours turns out differently. Mine wasn’t bluffing 🙂

  7. Simon Smithson says:

    Yeah, I guess the question is, what if this is a kind of Kickass situation brewing, and the stabbing is about taking out some guys who are up to no good?

  8. Sarah Maizes says:

    Simon – then I’m all for it. I could be rearing a Super Hero. Her name would be “The Iron Flip Flop”!

  9. Carl D'Agostino says:

    The answer here is quite simple. Obviously, little Sylvia got into the attic where you store your college lit books and she read Julius Caesar by Shakespeare. And at such a young age. God bless the child. As a part time house painter, part time pizza delivery man, part time psychologist, et. al., I would suggest that although she has integrated the murder in the play via stabbing and expresses projection, there probably exists a more latent dynamic. It is not the stabbing but the act of betrayal that infatuates her more, which of course means that she wants to become a member of Congress when she grows up. On the other hand, it could also mean she wants to be a Sicilian when she grows up. My opinion here is substantive and authoritative. I am half Sicilian and half Roman by descent as indicated by my last name. I hope these insights prove helpful. Watch your back.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I feel exactly like sylvia.

    • Anonymous says:

      but I’m not angry… just anxious? I want to destroy something, preferred means stabbing or biting, but my teeth don’t feel adequate so I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t stab someone either, it’s just an urge.

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