I almost made a little girl cry today, or at least, I think I almost did.
I went over to a friend's place, and events led me to tease her youngest child a little too much. I jokingly told her that for everything the parents do wrong, their penalty was to give away their youngest child, and that's why Joey does not live with his parents anymore. At first she was incredulous and laughed, but for some reason, I couldn't quite stop myself from continuing what I thought was a funny joke. After all, I tease Joey all the time about selling him for my craft habit. Apparently at some point in life I lost my ability to differentiate the age and the gullibility discrepancy between young children and adults.
I continued in a serious manner, and her laughing eyes eventually turned to horror and worry. My friend slapped me on the arm and told me that if I made her child cry, I had to take her home. I stopped and told her I was joking. Almost instantaneously, she put back on her goofy smile.
I feel kind of duped. I noticed the troubled look in her eyes, but the immediate change of expression afterward makes me feel like I was tricked. Though of course, I didn't want to finish my teasing; I certainly do not want to deal with a crying child. There's got to be a special place in Hell for grownups who tease kids too much, and even though I'm not a believer, I've always been a firm practitioner of not testing the limits.
I do feel slightly guilty, and like a bully.