Pythia Defool’s advice column, “Ask Roger,” was a mainstay in the Chattanooga Tribune from 1976-1983. It was later renamed “Ask Pythia” following the landmark Supreme Court Case, Lady v. Florida, which granted women the right to have their names appear in print. Dear Pythia is a revival of her classic advice column and is composed in beautiful downtown Tampa Bay. For advice, email DearPythia@Gmail.com
I became the legal guardian of my nephew after his parents fled to Colombia and joined the FARC guerrilla army. While my nephew and I have a good relationship, he loves pulling pranks and filming my reaction for Tik Tok. Most recently, he lit my car on fire and called me pretending to be trapped in the trunk.
I grow weary of his antics, yet do not want to alienate him. How can I get my nephew to stop pranking me?
Auntie Anti-Social Media
Pranks can be a fun way for youngsters to test boundaries and commit harmless transgressions. Yet, there is a thin blue line separating pranks from misdemeanors.
When I was nine, I thought it would be funny to see horses act loopy. I dumped a bottle of my papa’s Ducky Shincracker Everclear into the horse trough, and a dozen town kids paid me a nickel to watch the aftermath.
Amid the horses’ crazed intoxication, one of the mares trampled the chicken coup, killing three birds and a pig who spent the night in the wrong house. Also, our farm’s most robust workhorse was rendered permanently impotent, which led to the collapse of a multi-generational stock horse empire.
As punishment, my father buried me up to my chest in manure for 3 days. He made enough nickels from the audience of town kids to rebuild the chicken coop, but we never did regain our footing in the horse breeding business. I learned my lesson and that was my last prank.
Your nephew is likely reckoning with a litany of traumas and needs to see a therapist immediately. Once that process is underway, it will be time to explain how his actions make you feel. Assert that you love him, but if the pranks continue to escalate you will go Ducky Shincracker on his heinie.
Doling out the appropriate punishment will teach your nephew that there are consequences for his actions. Ignoring his bad behavior may turn him into a meretricious dung beetle who grows up to become President.