I thanked my Mom for having the sense to slap my face off after I called her a “bitch” when I was 14 years old. I felt compelled to do something similar after watching a particularly surly teenager talk to her mom like crap in line at a Taco Bell in West Virginia. This was shortly after viewing a Dr. Phil segment on “Mean Girls,” which had already reminded me of my good fortune.
“Oh my God, Mom, you are so stupid. I’ll just order it. Gah!”
My own instincts kicked in, and I had to restrain myself from slapping her face off for calling her Mom stupid. I was immediately transported back to my own life-altering experience when I was a surly teenager myself.
Mom was driving us to the pound in her beat-up Delta 88 (a car that is roughly the size of a Cessna) to drop off a stray cat I had found. I was pissed she wouldn’t let me keep it. I was being a selfish kid and didn’t take into consideration we lived in a place that didn’t allow pets. I just thought she was trying to impede my personal happiness.
“You’re just being a bitch.”
You know how time seems to stand still for a brief second when you’re involved in a horrible accident? My mother drew her hand back so fast it sucked all the air out of the car, and when her open palm connected with my defiant little face, the sound was deafening. My younger brother, who was sitting in the backseat, immediately burst into tears. She hit me so hard my brother cried. I have literally been hit so hard my brother cried, and I’m thankful for it.
Don’t get me wrong, it took years for me to realize she did me a great service in ringing my bell. And I assure you, I have never had the guts to even think my mom was a bitch while standing within arm’s length of her since then.
West Virginia Taco Bell mom wasn’t as nice to her kid. She took the abuse and let the girl order her own food – which she should have been doing anyway — without making a scene about it. You can only infer that she’ll take the same abuse from her kids, because no one ever taught her to be respectful or suffer the wrath, which eventually morphs into learning to be respectful because it’s the right thing to do and how people are supposed to act.
I appreciate my Mom. She never used, “What in heavens name is wrong with you?” as a rhetorical question. When I screwed up she expected an answer, and she expected it immediately after punctuating the question with, “Do you hear me?” I heard those two questions more than I’d like to admit, but as I got older, I heard them less and less, and it’s been many years since she looked at me like I had three heads and a tail and asked me what in heavens name was wrong with me. I consider that to be the mark of effective parenting.
Thanks again, mom.