Maybe Keep Some Thoughts InsideJoel Stein
I was waiting outside with Laszlo for an animal balloon at a particularly nice birthday party at a part of Griffith Park with train rides and old Pullman cars you can walk in, when one of the moms walked by and, as she passed shaking and about to cry said to us, “I don’t want to be his mother anymore! I’m so fucking sick of him!”
This momentarily killed the birthday party buzz.
But only for me. Everyone else in line went right back to talking about balloon animals and trains and the amazing homemade birthday cake with an alligator on it. This seemed even weirder than yelling, “I don’t want to be his mother anymore! I’m so fucking sick of him!”
So I asked the mom in front of me, who knows Tourette’s Mom, what the outburst was about.
“Oh that’s normal. Every mom gets like that sometimes,” she said. “Ask your wife.”Every mom gets like that? No, Howard Beale gets like that after he’s fired from his news anchor job in Network. Moms roll their eyes and say, “Kids, right?”
I totally understand thinking, “I don’t want to be his mother anymore.” It’s a very dark thought and one, honestly, I haven’t had yet as a dad. But you definitely can’t say it out loud in public.
You can’t even say, “I don’t want to be his wife anymore” to a bunch of strangers in line for balloon animals. You can’t even say “I don’t want to be her daughter anymore.” These are sentences you can only say to your therapist or on Lifetime movies. Even “I don’t want to be his friend anymore” is something you’re not really supposed to say after age six.
If a dad walked by and yelled, “I don’t want to be his father anymore! I’m so fucking sick of him!” someone would, I hope, call child services. Dads who lose their temper and hit their kids in public don’t even say that. Any dad who would actually say that is hopefully leaving his wife and kids that night, or, more likely, abusing them in ways that they don’t even show on Lifetime movies.
I get that being a mom is harder than being a dad. And that women are allowed to express their feelings more than men. And that Cassandra and I are lucky to have randomly gotten a sweet, well-behaved, meek little boy. Maybe Tourette’s Mom is chasing around a little Charlie Manson and no one would want to be his mom. Maybe Little Chuck Manson had just pulled down his pants and said, “I’m going to rape the fuck out of that alligator cake.” That would make me not want to be his mom.
But barring that, Tourette’s Mom’s behavior is not something we should accept. We should make it clear at least to each other if not to Tourette’s Mom that it is unacceptable. That as a parent your job is to keep your emotions bottled up inside.
My generation was taught that any immediately unexpressed emotion will result in disease, resentment and dangerous outbursts. But that’s not true. Repression is what separates children from adults. Its our job as parents to show our kids how to control our emotions. And if you can’t do it at home, at least don’t do it in front of my kid. I think the kid in front of us asked for a balloon light saber just to protect herself. I know I did.
Pre-order my book, Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity, (out May 15) on Amazon.
Don’t miss the latest from Babble Voices Like Us on Facebook!