My Child Compared Mick Foley To Prince And I Seriously Could Not Be Prouder

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Picture the scene. Or don’t picture it. That’s not actually a requirement here. But the scene is me and my 8-year-old son, working on a jigsaw puzzle while the 7-year-old watches Monday Night Raw nearby. Well, he’s partly watching the show and partly engaged with his tablet, building a roller coaster empire. Say what you want about screen time, I honestly do not know how they built Disneyland without it.

So anyway. Everyone is doing their thing and glancing up at WWE on the TV now and then when the 7-year-old says, “Hey! Mom. Mick Foley is on.”

For those of you that don’t know, meaning all of you, Mick Foley is my very favorite WWE wrestler of all time. He’s just brilliant. And funny. And unlike most of his counterparts, he seems to be in a good mood like, all the time. He never swears because he doesn’t see the need for it. He’s never been really anything like any of the other wrestlers. He was Dude Love, he had a sock puppet, to put it plainly, he IS WHAT HE IS. Period.

“Awww, look at him,” I say now, fondly. “I love that guy. And his pants are a little too short, that’s so cute. You see that?”

“Huh,” say my children. Perhaps a little less than interested.

“No, look,” I tell them. “Really. Those pants! Those pants just make me love him more.”

No one says anything right away, and I figure that will be that. You know kids. You try to throw a lesson at them and they yawn, every time. Of course the lesson here might have been a little unclear or perhaps missing altogether. I mean – occasionally it might be okay if your pants are too short? Is that my lesson? It seems weird. Really when you think about it, it’s probably no wonder they ignore me half the time.

Mick Foley starts talking on the TV screen, and I wonder if he wears his hair so big and bushy in order to hide his right ear, much of which is missing. That doesn’t seem like something he’d do, unless maybe he’s trying to protect the kids. Which would totally make sense. He’s so freaking nice.

“I know why you like Mick Foley so much,” says the 8-year-old. Quite casually.

“Oh, really?” I say, still distracted by my own musings.

“Yeah,” he says. “It’s because he’s like Prince.  Obviously.”

My heart stops beating and my lungs stop breathing. Well not really. But for a moment I feel like nothing but a semi-animated corpse with a puzzle piece clutched in its hand. I stare at my kid.

“What?” I say.

“You know,” he tells me. “Like, he wears what he wants. He acts like himself. Like Prince.”

He goes back to the puzzle as if nothing unusual has happened. As if comparing these two men is something that 3rd graders do on a regular basis. As if a child understanding something a parent has told them is totally normal.

Unless you are a goat with human eyes. Then you may want to make some changes.
Unless you are a goat with human eyes. Then you may want to make some changes.

BE HOW YOU ARE. This is something I have told my kids maybe 17 million times. 14 million of those were right around the time that Prince died.

“Why do you like him so much?” they asked me, as Purple Rain played out on the TV. “He dresses like a girl.”

“Exactly,” I said. “Look at him. That’s a man who said, I don’t care what you think of me, I’m gonna be how I am and you can take it or leave it.”

“He’s weird.”

“Lots of people thought he was weird. Lots of other people loved him. Because it doesn’t matter how you are, someone will always think you’re weird but someone else will think you’re the coolest thing ever. The ‘someone elses’ are your friends. You don’t need to bother with the ones who think you’re weird, you just need to be how you are, be how you are, BE HOW YOU ARE.”

And what I am pretty sure my kids heard: BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BE HOW YOU BLAH BLAH BLAH. Let’s face it. When your kids are seven and eight, you are the teacher from Charlie Brown. That’s just life but if you’re anything like me, you keep trying anyway.

Here is a photo that came up when I searched on "individuality." These image websites are a mystery to me.
Here is a photo that came up when I searched on “individuality.” These image websites are a mystery to me.

And then one day, your kid notices that Mick Foley is just like Prince. Because even though all he heard was BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BE HOW YOU BLAH BLAH BLAH, he understood. He got it. It is like magic.

And then he goes on to ignore you when you say it’s bedtime, or to push his brother down the stairs, or any one of six thousand other things that go against everything you’ve ever told him. But you know that now you can never give up, because you have seen a miracle happen. And so you keep telling him about being kind and trying his hardest and taking responsibility and so on. And then you sit back for the next 12 or so years and relive that Mick Foley/Prince moment, because it’s probably the only one you’ll get until your kids are well out of college and living on their own and thinking that “take responsibility” is something they thought up all on their own.

But, you know. You take what you can get and you don’t complain, because no one likes a whiner. Which reminds me, there’s something I wanted to tell my kids.

All you parents out there, keep up the good fight. Charlie Brown might actually be listening.

 

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To My Children, When They Are Bored

Hello, children! Mommy here. I know, obvs, right? Or don’t we say obvs anymore? I never know what’s up with the current lingo. I do know, because you just told me, that you are bored. Out of your mind.

And you know, that totally reminds me of when I was a kid. I hated to be bored. Of course, times were different back then. Do you want to hear about it?

No?

Oh, come on – just listen. Just for a minute. You have nothing else to do, right?

I’m not going to tell you about the walk to school uphill both ways in three feet of snow, because my God, it wasn’t that long ago. We had school buses and if it snowed, we had a snow day, just like you. You know what we did on those snow days? Let me tell you. One thing we did was sit around and listen to the radio, hoping and praying to hear our favorite song so we could tape it. On a cassette. Unlike you, we couldn’t hear any song we wanted to, at any time, day or night. No, we had to press PLAY and RECORD at the exact same moment, and we never caught the whole song because we were invariably a few seconds late. And the DJ would always start talking before the song ended, so every time you played “Like a Virgin,” you also heard some guy named Turbo saying “. . . and that’s Madonna, coming in at number seven. . . ” And so on.

The clear ones were fancy.
The clear ones were fancy.

That was fun. You know what else was fun? Watching the movie Alien before I had my 12-year molars. You’re not familiar with Alien? That’s good, because you shouldn’t be. I shouldn’t have been either, but a) my parents were apparently idiots, and b) there was only so much to watch on TV, back then. Certainly there wasn’t any 24/7 children’s programming. No Kid’s Choice Awards. Never mind the awards – there was no kid’s choice at all. You watched Alien and if that meant you couldn’t sleep for several months afterward for fear that a small octopus might explode out of your guts and suction on to your face, well, that was your problem.

Sort of like this. But ON YOUR FACE.
Sort of like this. But ON YOUR FACE.

Speaking of scary. I’ll tell you about scary. Scary is answering a ringing telephone when you have no idea who is on the other end of the line. I promise you, you know nothing about fear until you have accidentally found yourself exchanging pleasantries with a drunk or otherwise volatile older relative for upwards of a minute. But that’s how it was, in those days; the phone rang and you picked it up. Period. Oh, and guess how many phones there were in the house? One! It was attached to the wall in the kitchen and if you wanted to talk on it you had to stay there. In the kitchen. In front of everybody.

Could you Google on that phone? Dude – are you kidding me right now? YOU COULDN’T GOOGLE ANYTHING AT ALL, EVER. There was no Google! There were only big, heavy hardcover books called encyclopedias, and if you wanted to know about polar bears, you had to first figure out if that subject would be in the “P” book or the “B” book. What I am saying is that basically, you couldn’t find out shit back then. If I were you, I would Google things all day long. Just because I could.

Google, 1981
Google, 1981

But, whatever. You’re bored and so nothing pleases you; no suggestion will be good enough. I get it. It’s tough. You know what I did for fun sometimes? I went outside and left my mother alone to smoke and drink coffee like a normal grown-up. I went outside because on the hottest days of summer, it was probably cooler out there than it was in the house. You don’t think we had air conditioning, do you? Wrong again, kid. No one had air conditioning, or if they did, we weren’t friends with them. We had a goddamned box fan on the floor and sure, it was fun to make your voice go all vibrato by talking real close to it, but that got old after 30 seconds tops. Especially once your mother heard you and came and smacked you in the back of the head with a paint stirrer. Those paint stirrers were way better quality than these crap balsa sticks they make today. They were thick and heavy-duty plastic with holes at intervals, which I guess were for better aerodynamics.

Wow! That really DOES cool it down in here!
Wow! That really DOES cool it down in here!

So, yeah. Outside, I’d invent some game to play by myself for a while, often involving pine needles and rocks. When I got bored of that I might walk to a friend’s house, going the long way around the block to avoid the two neighborhood thugs who always threatened to beat me up. They were boys, incidentally. I was a girl. They were allowed to threaten me because no one cared about bullying back then. “Fight your own battles,” my mother used to tell me, and so that’s what I did. Usually by crying and running as fast as I could while they laughed. They didn’t even bother to chase me. If they had chased me, I am pretty certain I’d have peed my pants or worse. I am telling you, they were dangerous times. But I survived, as you can –

Hey! Where are you going? What do you mean, you can’t sit here and listen to me? Suddenly you have other stuff to do? What could be more important than life lessons from your –

Oh, fine. Go do what you need to do. I’ll just sit here and reminisce all on my own.

No, it’s fine. Really.

Sucker.

 

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