When You’re Mean To Your Mom

mean teenKids and teenagers you might not realize this but when you are ugly and mean to your mother, everyone (the general population) thinks you are a punk….without exception.

Here’s what happens.  When I worked at a boarding school I was on a committee to help choose the “Community Leaders”.  It was a big deal and roughly 100 kids applied for the 25 spots.  A beautiful and smart young lady applied. She had a 4.0, she was a cheer leader, she was the president of several clubs and she was a minority (we really needed some minority kids to be leaders) so she was a great looking applicant.  But several of those on the committee, students and staff, had watched the way she treated her Daddy when he came to visit. His name was Levon, He was a hard working, blue collar widower who worshiped his daughter. But she treated him like bear poop. She was rude, condescending, snarky and bitchy to this sweet old man. This was brought up during discussion and her file was tossed. People had been watching and knew what kind of person she really was.

Recently I mentioned to my seventeen year old daughter that I ran into her friend, Heather, at Wal-Mart. I said we had a really nice conversation in the produce isle.  But my daughter shook her head and said, “I know, right? She’s so sweet and cool to everybody at school but she treats her mom so mean. And her mom does EVERYTHING to help her. It’s crazy. She gripes and yells at her mom in front of people all the time. ”

And guys, did you know one of the first questions everyone in the family asks after you’ve taken one of my daughters out…..”How does he treat his mom?” If he isn’t sweet, if he doesn’t love on his mom, if he doesn’t give her hugs and love….you’re on the list. Because we all know you will treat our daughters the same way you treat or mom. With respect or like a punk ass jerk.

When eleven year old boys want to come to our house they are always sweet and polite to me, but then, when I find out they treat their moms as though they were indentured servants…well, that’s not the kid I want to take to Magic Springs. What if his behavior and attitude rub off on my kid.

So kids, 8-30, now you know. You will be judged by the way you treat you moms. If being rude to her makes you feel more important and more grown up, understand it’s actually  making you look  small, weak and and pathetic.

Now go hug your mom.

When Adults Say Ignorant Stupid Stuff to Kids

   Parents and relatives tell kids stuff that’s simply not true, all the time.  I don’t think they mean to lie. We simply have wrong thoughts in our heads or  understand the world in a way that’s goofy and semi ignorant.

When adults say ridiculous stuff to you don’t get all jacked up. Don’t get mad and cut them out of your life.  Most of the time parents and adults, especially moms and grandmoms say crazy mean stuff.
My grandmother, Bubba, was a saint, one of the most loved women in Hot Springs, Arkansas. She was kind, generous, giving, warm and intelligent. She was also born in 1895, in south Arkansas.
That might explain why, when I was seven or eight years old, Bubba became concerned about the size of my nose.  Just so you understand I have a strong nose. It’s a serious nose, straight, masculine, and probably a little heavy for my face…but as my husband just said, “it’s not bulbous”. (thanks honey)ally  moms and grand moms, think they are helping you. They do love you,  they are just…..kind of stupid sometimes.

The truth is I have the Stell family nose.  It looks great on men. All the men in my family with the Stell nose were considered very handsome but I’m the only woman in several generations to carry this family feature.

Back to the story. When I was a little girl, my grandmother Bubba, whom I adored, suggested when I was watching tv I should hold my nose, wrap my entire hand around it…so it wouldn’t grow anymore.  She explained how the women in the Orient wrapped their feet so they would remain petite. Maybe I could do the same thing with my nose.

Until that moment I’d never really thought about my nose.  Obviously she’d been thinking about it a great deal.

So, I would spend hours watching the Brady Bunch and Gun Smoke with my hand wrapped around my nose. I didn’t offense then because I was just a little girl, but a few years later I figured things out.  Bubba thought my nose wasn’t very attractive, too big and heavy. And she wanted to help me because she loved me.

Ouch. My husband always says ‘if love hurts you’re doing it wrong.”

Since the day I figured out what Bubba was really saying, I haven’t had any doubt. my nose is waaay too big. But I do not believe for a second Bubba was trying  to hurt me or do me harm.  She just wanted me to be pretty and have a wonderful life.

Bubba also told me, when I was thirteen, I should stop running around barefooted. She said my feet would be the size of skillets and no handsome man would marry me.

My beloved Bubba was wrong. I’ve had two husbands and lots and lots of handsome men in my life. Apparently, they really don’t care about the size of my feet.

Again, Bubba wasn’t trying to hurt or criticize me. She believed she was right. She loved me and wanted me to have a handsome husband. Because in her mind that was the key to happiness.

So, when someone in your family says you are going to be a failure if you…., when they say  your life will be a disaster if you break up with a certain boy or fail to follow a particular career path, if they tell you your eyebrows need to be plucked or your hair should be blond…they probably love you. They love you and genuinely think they are helping.  Let their comments roll off your beautiful shoulders and melt into the mud puddles.

That’s what I did, along with my big nose and handsome husband.

On the other hand, if several people in your life are telling you the same thing, like, “That guy is a super creep, stay away from him.” You probably need to take their advise seriously. They want you to be happy and they see something you don’t.

But DO NOT wrap you hand around your nose while watching tv, that doesn’t work.

The Power of A Crazy Mom

A cool crazy mom can be a beautiful and terrifying woman. An inspired moment of insanity can remind your children who’s really in charge and that’s a lovely thing. As parents, sometimes we work so hard at remaining sane we forget the importance and power of crazy. As a result four and five year old kids push us around like grocery carts.

We want our children to be happy and healthy and normal and we don’t want them to be spoiled or mean. So we try to be civil and kind and patient…all the time. Maybe that’s not a good thing.  Becaue we don’t want our kids to be nuts so we avoid doing anything that suggests crazy behaviour is ok.

My ex-husband used to call it “the rich glint of lunacy.” I still love that line.

Remember some of the most inspired and brilliant men and women of science, art and literature were toe sucking crazies. So, maybe we shouldn’t down play it’s importance too quickly. But before you start throwing crazy behaviour around like bird seed, remember a little bit goes a long way.  If you’re crazy all the time everyone, including your children, will just shrug, dismiss and avoid you.  They will be unfazed and unimpressed, no matter how off the wall your actions are.  A person who is constantly crazy becomes  boring and bothersome.  (Trust me I know this from first hand experience).

One day I took my children, Jack and Mary, to Burger King. I think Jack was five and Mary was four. We rolled through the drive-in and got two Happy Meals. Back then Happy Meals were a big deal because I was single and really broke. Both the kids were in the back seat. They ripped into the paper bags to check out their toy. ( Nobody opened the toy because I had a rule. They had to eat every bite before they could pull open the plastic bag with the toy inside.)

In the exact same instant, Jack and Mary both started whining and complaining. There was a chorus of “Oh man, what a rip off! We have this toy. This stinks. I hate Burger King.”  This was followed by much sighing and groaning that seemed to go on and on and on.

I could feel my throat constricting with annoynace, disapointment then anger. “Ok, put all the stuff back in the bag,” I said cheerfully. 

“Ok cool!” they started shoving their Happy Meals back together.

“Even the drink?”

“Yup, put it all in the bag,” I smiled into the rear view mirror. “Hand them up to me.”

They put the still warm bags of food into my hand, happy because I was going to return to Burger King and get new toys. A traffic light turned red and I stopped then  I rolled down my window and threw the bags out.

Jack and Mary both gasped but did not speak.

I rolled up the window. “Don’t ever act like that again. Don’t you dare whine about a Happy Meal toy. You understand?”

“Yes ma’am” was all they said and we drove in silence.  Once home, I fixed them peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

They never whined or complained about a Happy Meal or fast food toy again.

Better still, they shared this story over and over and over  with their younger brother and sister, because it’s kind of scary and thrilling and dramatic. There was no yelling, no abuse, no threatening.. just unmitagated volatility.  And I can not remember a time when any of my children have ever complained or whined about a Happy Meal toy since that summer day nineteen years ago…

Sometimes, a single  act of insanity has lasting power and tells kids there is a line that should not be crossed. And if  they do cross that line, they might be surprised by the results.

Tell me what you think about the story or Happy Meals! Leave a comment or e-mail me at hampoland@gmail.com

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