After a career spent looking after little ones, it's become quite apparent (to me) that children are, you know, evil. There's a very good reason why Children Of The Corn and The Omen made such fantastically horrific movies. There's truth in fiction, my friends. So, honestly, it's probably worth it to be on the lookout for signs your kid is a sociopath, that don't include the traditional harbingers of destruction like frogs falling from the sky or a plague of locusts.
Reading over a list of sociopathic tendencies and traits of the criminally ill is like reading a page from Dr. Sears' handbook. Kids and sociopaths are basically the same people: egomaniacs who have little regard for other people's feelings. Sure, children are adorable and lack the ability to understand social cues or appropriate behavior or the world they've entered but, if we're being honest, we can't deny that babies are also single minded and persevere until they get what they want (and they always get what they want). They can turn your world upside down in a matter of seconds, leaving you nothing more than a guilt-ridden, shame-filled wreck.
Sociopaths walk among us, at a rate of 1 in 25 people, according to Harvard psychologist Martha Stout, author of The Sociopath Next Door. Sure, that statistic is a little daunting, but the vast majority of those sociopaths are probably children so, really, you might not have to look very far to find one. In fact, a sociopath is probably throwing a tantrum right next to you.
They Puke Or Pee On You When You're All Dressed Up
You can be rockin' sweats and a dirty shirt for weeks without so much as an incident, but the minute you need to get dressed up your baby will seize their opportunity to ruin said outfit (and probably your evening). He or she will wait until the last possible second — when you have fixed your hair and are wearing a new dress, looking fabulous for an important meeting at work or a special date — and then they'll strike, spraying projectile vomit all over you. Ugh.
They Sleep All Day And Party All Night
Trying to rouse your baby for a Jamboree class is like attempting to wake the dead, their floppy limbs flail around in the baby carrier and their head threatening to roll off their body (well, at least it feels that way). Then, of course, the middle of the night rolls around and it's party time.
The emotional roller coaster of sleep deprivation begins as you finally get them off to sleep, sneak out of the room, and the minute your weary head hits your sweet, sweet pillow, they're screaming. Babies are sadists, I'm telling you.
They Make You Look Like A Liar
If you tell everyone under the sun that your little one just loves apple sauce, he or she will promptly throw it across the room when offered. If you say he or she will only drink milk, they'll beg for juice. If you claim your baby can crawl or roll over, and implore others to watch as impending wonder is sure to unfold, your baby will sit on the floor like a bump a log and refuse to move.
Basically, anything that makes you look deranged and as though you don't know your baby at all is something your baby is going to do.
They Don't Recognize The Rights Of Others
Babies aren't (and can't be) manipulative, but it definitely doesn't feel that way in the middle of the night when your mini-dictator refuses to let you sleep and cries in a way that convinces you they're really saying, "Amuse me, clown!"
Or when they get a little older and completely deny you any and all privacy. Every mom who has been forced to go to the bathroom with an audience knows she lives in a two tier system. There's no equality involved, my friend.
They Pretend To Cry And Pretend To Laugh And Pretend To Cough
Researchers have found that babies pretend to cry and laugh for attention and as a form of communication. Essentially the "fake laugh, cry or cough" is a sign that your baby is picking up on social cues and habits.
My baby would always smile at random people on the bus, becoming so animated that he was practically flirting, then as soon as they got off the bus he would drop his smile like it was hot.
They Are Outraged By Insignificant Matters
Babies spend their young lives constantly outraged, like tiny little despot kings screaming, "Off with their heads!" because their oatmeal was one degree cooler than the optimal temperature or because you served it in the green bowl instead of the red one.
Like sociopaths, babies do not allow these perceived transgressions to go unnoticed and, at any given moment, will make you pay for your "mistakes."
They Have A Grandiose Sense of Self
Babies literally think the world revolves around them (probably because, for a while, it does). I mean, for a while everyone they know will do their bidding, no questions asked, so it's not like us adults can hold it against them.
However, just like a sociopath, they have no concept of other people's bodily autonomy or rights. Instead, they believe their feelings and desires are more important than anyone else's. It's their world, we're just living in it.
They Find Subtle Ways To Hurt You
Babies, like sociopaths, are experts at finding ways to hurt you (that usually leave little-to-no physical evidence). Whether it's pulling your hair, twisting your nipple, or my son's personal favorite, scrunching his toes up in my arm hair and tugging (ouch), those tiny humans sure do pack a serious punch.
Who would have thought that something so small and weak could actually hurt a full grown woman, right? Nevertheless, babies can be surprisingly strong and BRI (baby related injuries) are a very real phenomena.
They Have A Total Lack Of Remorse Or Shame
Babies, and sociopaths, have no shame whatsoever. Instead they live in the moment and never over-analyze their behavior.
I was once the nanny for a toddler who took a number two in a plant pot — a plant pot, mind you, that was located in a store. He just pulled his pants and diaper down, sat in the pot, ignored the horrified looks of people passing by, and did his business with no shame. Classic sociopath, if you ask me.
They Are Completly Irrational
Don't put it past your baby to demand ridiculous things from you, then freak out regardless of whether or not you've delivered. I'm telling you, you can't win either way.
My kid has thrown huge tantrums for a variety of irrational reasons, up to and including: I wouldn't let him get in the stove, I wouldn't let him ride on a bear at the zoo, I took him to the park like he asked me too, and because it stopped raining. There is no logic to a child's tantrums, so you just have to ride them out and hope you're all still alive at the end.
They Can Be Creepy AF
If you have ever woken up to a co-sleeping baby giving you the old stare, you already know the horror that is what I've come to call, "creepy baby syndrome." Other signs include groping you during breastfeeding and licking your face just because. Weirdos.
They Start Out As Parasites And Progress To Little Vampires
If you're breastfeeding, your baby is literally sucking the life right out of you. There were moments during my son's first year when I didn't even bother to put a top on, as he would come and nibble on me up to 20 times a day. And, of course, this parasitic feeding occurs well before they're born, thanks to the umbilical cord.
When I was about 8 months pregnant I suffered from a truly heinous case of food poisoning, thanks to some funky red quinoa. My body was violently rejecting anything that had been ingested, and I felt like I was going to die. I called my doctor in a panic, concerned for the welfare of my unborn baby, and he told me to keep sipping liquids but not to worry; the baby would be fine, because all the nutrients I could keep down would be diverted to him. It would just be me suffering because, well, that's love, my friends. Love and science, I guess.
As much as your baby might seem to be taking personality notes from Hannibal Lecter, in time they will mature and begin to see the world from a less egocentric perspective. They'll begin to realize that while you're their mom, you're also a person with your own rights and feelings. They'll learn empathy and compassion for others and all of their seemingly sociopathic tendencies will be a thing of the past. (I hope.)