Not long ago, a friend mailed me a letter that contained two sheets of paper. On one sheet, was an article titled The Meanest Mother in the World, and on the other was the letter writer’s note to me which can be summarized with this one sentence: “Nice to know that being ‘mean’ is not all bad.” As I read through the words of the article, originally written by Bobbie Pingaro (http://mrmom.amaonline.com/poems/meanestmother.htm) in 1967, I thought to myself that mean mothers have been in existence for a long time. In honor of all the mean mothers that are still around in the year 2012, perhaps we should revive this little mantra for the 21st century, complete with re-vamped demands that all mean mothers are prone to request in our present day world. Here are a few thoughts that I came up with.
I am the meanest mother in the whole wide world. While some kids don’t get on the bus with breakfast in their bellies, my kids are forced to have a muffin, bowl of cereal or a piece of toast. At the very least, an over-ripe banana. And I have been known to pack up an unfinished waffle or bag up a bowl of dry cereal and send it along for the ride. All because mean mothers know that kids hate eating breakfast and we live to bring torture to their lives.
I also force my children to fold their pajamas, neatly, and while I include them in making their bed, I insist they learn how to do it the right way, not just any old way they please. Since I am a stickler for neatness, I assist them in learning how to smooth back the covers, and I show them how to make it actually look presentable rather than as if a dead man is lying underneath the covers. Cruel, I know.
I force my kids to shower every second day whether they stink or not. They have to use soap and shampoo, and I often stand there outside the shower until I know they have rinsed all the shampoo out of their silky locks. They often cry because they hate getting water in their eyes, but since I am mean, I insist that they do it the right way. They’ll thank me later when they don’t have dandruff to deal with.
They also always have to wear clean undies after bathing. Cruel and unusual punishment.
Mean mothers always overdress their children, and I am no exception. My kids are usually a slight bit over the average internal temperature for a normal child. They always have a hat, mittens, sweatshirt, coat and wind pants on their person until about June 15th when I officially break out the summer wear. I have a history of being mean in this way that dates back to the moment I became a mother. True story. After my first child was born, I took him to the doctor because he was running a slight fever. Come to find out he was overdressed. Who knew that a knitted sweater set in August could do that to a child?
I am so hateful. I insist on regular contact with my children’s classroom teachers. If I hear that they have not done an assignment, I am mean enough to actually contact the teacher to get the assignment right from the horse’s mouth. And I insist on respect and courteous behaviour from my kids toward their teachers and other responsible adults in their life. I have been known to insist on my children apologizing to an adult that they have not acknowledged or spoken to in a courteous way when they have been politely addressed by that same adult in public. The nerve of me, I know. But you’ll have to excuse me for this poor behaviour. I learned it honestly. My own father once drove me to an elderly lady’s house to apologize for rudely not acknowledging her when she kindly spoke to me at church. Some lessons are learned the hard way.
I insist on my children adhering to a code of conduct that includes an innate understanding of the word responsibility. I have been known to torture my children by actually requesting that they read a book, do their homework, walk the dog and sometimes (gasp, I know!) even do a chore or two as a means of earning X-box, computer, ipod or television. Furthermore, I insist that my children do some of those same forms of human torture (a.k.a. chores) on the weekend. Meanie that I am, I force my children to get up at a half decent hour of the day and then play outside, using their God-given imaginations to create and generate storylines for their play time. And since we bought them a dog for Christmas, they have now been shackled with the added torture of playing with and exercising the dog.
Mean mothers, like myself, actually brush our children’s teeth for them because we are so suspicious that they might have simply held the toothbrush under the water, sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and then called it a night. We also, on occasion, ask out children to wash their hands and face before heading to bed because as we all known, cleanliness is next to godliness.
Probably the meanest thing I currently do is insist that my children wait. They have to wait until after they have eaten their healthy food before they eat dessert. They have to wait until Christmas to open their presents. They have to wait until summer to wear their shorts outside. They seemingly have to wait for everything and they have to do so with such unreasonable time constraints. For instance, if my husband and I are talking, we insist that our children not interrupt us while we are in mid-sentence. We then spitefully request that they wait until we are finished our thought until they interject. As well, we ask them to wait until they have saved up their own money to buy desired toys and goodies that are outside the reasonable expenditure of our weekly allowance. We even ask them to wait until they are 13 to get a Facebook account.
I could go on about so many other mean things I do, like insisting that my children eat the food I have served up on the table, saying please when asking for something and thank you when they have been given something or the most detestable of all, apologizing for things that were just mere accidents (as in, “I am sorry I sideswiped you on the way through the door and knocked that huge pile of towels you were holding out of your arms.”) If I was even half-ways nice, I am sure I would not care.
I realize that being a mean mother has a slew of secondary repercussions. As a result, my children, although not perfect, have sometimes complained about the undue hardship their mean mother inflicts on them. As a result of being mean, I have also had to deal with my children being singled out by other responsible adults in their life for being polite and respectful citizens of the groups in which they participate.
But I can deal with it. Because mean mothers have a tough skin. And we come by our meanness honestly. Our own mothers, bless their nasty little hearts, were mean too.