I love the show Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, so sue me. Last week, TLC was showing a bunch of back-to-back episodes for two hours so I made someone (who shall remain anonymous) watch it with me. With his eyes rolled back in his head and his forefinger pressed into his temple, he plopped his arse on the couch, promising “just one episode.”
Three episodes later, not having moved from the couch, he says: “That Mama June…I thought she was going to be a daft cow, but she is a really good mother.”
You need to see if for yourself without your hipster judgey-wudgey glasses on, I think more urban haute-bourgeoisie mothers need to take a page out of Mama June’s book.
The plot of the each episode is meaningless. Mostly the family goes about their mundane business of buying donuts at the Friday auction(!), jumping in mud puddles, participating in child beauty pageants, etc. Every activity is punctuated with someone having something either exploding or oozing out of a random orifice…and don’t wince and get all high horse over the white trash redneck fart gags. You laughed at the group diarrhea scene in Bridesmaids, don’t lie.
That’s the thing about families, if you can’t fart in front of them, then who can you fart in front of? The Honey Boo Boo clan don’t give a shit, they do it on national tv. That is what makes them superstars. Which is why this show is on The “Learning” Channel, because we should all learn to clear the snot from our nose and embrace each other for our foibles and follies. Jesus Hillbilly Christ.
When my daughter was a toddler and I was pregnant with Freddy, I didn’t really know what I was doing parenting-wise because there was no internet back then! A Starbucks opened up on the bottom of our street so a gang of mothers would park their Peg Peregos on the patio and plunk their Pilates asses on the couch configuration in the mornings after the office worker crowd had left. Their spawn ranged in age from newborn to preschool toddler-types and the topic of conversation was about their children, super boring details about potty training and diaper rashes that at the time were fascinating because I was going through it. They called themselves “The Yummy Mommies” because they thought they were so hot and their placenta tasted like foie gras.
The YM’s there didn’t really like me much. Once I ordered a hot chocolate and when I sat down to the circle jerk, I popped the lid off my cup and spilled a bit on my lap. But I had to blame someone else because that is what a Yummy Mommy would do.
“Stupid barista over-filled this,” I said.
One of the women scowled at me and said: “We don’t say that word here.”
“What word?” I’m thinking “barista”…is that like saying “stewardess” instead of “flight attendant?” Did I miss the memo?
“The “S” word,” she said.
“I didn’t say shit! I said “barista!”
“No….,” she put her hand over her mouth and whispered, “Stupid…we don’t say stupid.” And she petted her child’s ears as though to protect him from the evils of the world. “Words have power” was what they said as they shamed me.
Oh for fucksake, if I weren’t so lonely, I would have left and never come back. But I had to, or I would have committed murder.
I hung out with those stupid twats during the winter when Evangeline was in her terrible twos. That was when she refused to wear a winter coat or boots. I’d put her in the stroller and we’d walk down Waverley Road in the middle of January while she peeled off her coat and kicked off her boots, screaming at the very top of her lungs: “NO COAT ON!!! NO BOOTS ON!!!!”
The truth was that I didn’t really give a shit if she didn’t want to wear a coat or boots in freezing cold but I had to pretend to care. Otherwise I would be a bad mother. I’d stop the stroller and say calmly and firmly (and loudly in case anyone was listening), “Please put your coat, Evangeline, you will freeze!” I would bundle her up as she squirmed and arched her back.
“NO COAT ON!!!!!!!”
She ripped her coat off like a Hulk-baby and there would be just no way I could win. I’d keep it hovered over her so no one would call Child Services.
This sort of fuckery would occur in various forms with her for 8 years. Epic tantrums that would end with me taking her (and later Freddy, who was always so quiet and happy) for a drive in the country as I would fantasize about dumping her on the side of the road and living a peaceful life. Okay, I did actually dump her once at the dead end street with the ravine in back of Corpus Christi school and drove half a block while she just stood there dumbfounded. And I will confess to you, it was the greatest feeling in the world, even if it only lasted 20 seconds before I turned around. Damn guilt.
I could not tell you how many times I pulled out the Yellow Pages and turned to “Adoption Agencies.” I would say to her, calmly and rationally: “I will find you another home if you hate it here so much.” And she would be all like, “Right, mom.” Then as the last resort, I would start to cry and pull out the guilt card and say, “You don’t love me anymore, I’m so disappointed! Boo hoo!” For some reason, it would kill her to think that I would be “disappointed” and she get all sorry and sweet and hug me. But that ploy only worked for a short time. She knew my crying was fake and she woud say: “Stop with the cock-a-dillo tears, mom!” She couldn’t pronounce “crocodile.”
The final tantrum occurred one late afternoon in January. Evangeline, age 8, was obsessed with Harry Potter and found out through the school grapevine that The Nutty Chocolatier on Queen Street was selling magic jellybeans from the movie, the ones that tasted like barf and coconuts. But it was getting dark and Freddy was already in his jammies and refused to go.
“We’ll go tomorrow,” I said, “let’s clean up the living room.” (not the best diversionary tactic)
Screaming tantrum ensued. I ignored it and waited for it to pass, which was the current strategy. And it eventually did. Something good was on tv. I had won the battle without any effort at all.
A few moments later, the doorbell rang.
Aaaand it was two police officers.
“Ma’am,” one of them said, “There’s been a report. Someone called and said that a child was being harmed.”
“No, no, no, that was just my daughter having a fit. She wanted to go to a candy store and get some magic jellybeans. She wasn’t getting her way so she started yelling,” I tried to explain but story sounded ridiculous.
“Someone heard it from the bus stop and said they saw you hitting the child,” One of the officers said sternly. Cops are the scariest people on the planet. You always feel guilty around them even if you are not.
“I can assure you, I didn’t hit her!” The one time I was actually completely calm and rational is when I get busted.
“Well we are going to have to check for marks. Both kids,” they said, entering the house.
Of course the house was a giant mess of toys and laundry. The police took both Freddy and Evangeline in the dining room and closed the door while they checked them over. I knew they wouldn’t find anything but that was the worst feeling of shame and humiliation ever. Having cops come to your house to check your kids for welts is not a chapter in any of the “What To Expect” books.
But as it turned out, the one who felt the most shame and humiliation was Evangeline. From that day forward, she never had another tantrum or fit again.
She turned into the Golden Child with the most even temper of anyone I know. But I can’t help but think that if I wasn’t so worried about looking like the perfect mother for the Starbucks circle jerk that I could have saved myself years of grief.
Mama June would let Honey Boo Boo walk barefoot in the snow if they had it in Georgia. And she wouldn’t be caught dead in Starbucks. She is that cool.