The Meanest, Scariest Mama in the Whole County

I occasionally had a passing thought, as I surveyed a neighbor’s yard right after a disastrous encounter with toilet paper, teens and big tall trees, as to why our yard had never been toilet papered. This fact  was a mystery to me.  I had instructed my older boys to never go toilet papering because we have a yard loaded with tall trees.  I could not fathom how to get the stuff out of the branches, especially if it rained. My nightmare would be for a gang of hoodlums armed with Scotts Two-Ply to retaliate; with a light misty rainfall right afterwards.  The fact my boys have not been involved in any toilet-papering incidents may have been part of the reason, but the entire rationale as to WHY we have never been toilet papered has not been clear  up until now.

Each one of the little Bensons has thrown numerous fits now and again. Consequently, the little darling has been sent to his/her room to cool off. They have been known to stomp, frown and mutter, “you’re the meanest Mama in the whole world”!

I think I fall short of the whole world, but maybe not the whole county. One day this week we lost power.  In lieu of TV, computer and wii games, 17-year-old Piano Man and I talked. He had a fascinating revelation for me in that his high school friends, who mostly tower over me, are afraid of me. Mean ole’ Mrs. Benson has quite a reputation among a few boys at our local high school. Thank you very much!

I found this hugely flattering. I called all my friends to tell them about it. This was almost as good as being told I was “hot”, which of course will never be used to describe me by teenage boys thirty years younger than myself.  Mean AND scary was the next best thing.  Heady stuff.

My crimes are as follows; whenever Piano Man wants to go anywhere I say, “Yeah, you can go after you do XYZ chore”. This behavior has labeled me some kind of child labor monster as his friends are convinced I am treating Piano Man like a slave.

Another is, I rarely let him spend the night at a friend’s house.  Apparently this is unheard of.  After serving in a Relief Society Presidency in my early thirties; I was privy to all sorts of horror stories about kids 10 years or so older than my little angels.  I discovered a lot of shenanigans occurred while on sleepovers. During that time, I rested easier knowing  my little darlings weren’t running amuck committing acts of hooliganism that would be reported to the next Bishopric Council meeting. As they grew older, I remembered what happened to other mother’s reputations after it got out what their child had done;  the shame of what  our family would have to endure began to  keep me up at night. So we declared an edict about no sleepovers. I sleep better knowing they are asleep at home tucked in their beds.

Finally, the most heinous of my crimes, is I check his Facebook regularly. If his page is on the Internet for the whole world to see, the whole world includes me. SO whenever someone says something inappropriate on Piano Man’s page, I tell Piano Man to tell his little hooligan friend to straighten up, or I will ban him AND tell his mother that her child is going to hell by way of the State Penn. Apparently this threat has worked. As one day I was on the Facebook page of a friend of Piano Mans and came across a discussion where someone admonished, “Be careful Piano Man’s mom might read this and tell your mom”. I tell you, that was a proud moment.

Being the Meanest and Scariest Mother has worked in my favor. The last primary program a couple of kids acted up. My kids were aghast and Jie Jie said, “If we acted like that, Mama would drag us off the stand so fast it would make our heads spin”. Flash just shuttered at the embarrassing thought.

 You betcha.” I replied, “Ya’ll better never act up, cause folks will hear about it in the next county”.

 Just in case, dear reader, you are having delusions that I am the perfect mother; don’t bother.  The Bensons are perfect little rascals at home. Apparently they are just too frightened to act up in public.  So what is your reputation? Please do tell, and don’t be shy. 

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About JA Benson

Joanna entered the world as a BYU baby. Continuing family tradition, she graduated BYU with a degree in Elementary Education and taught for several years. Growing up in Salt Lake County, her favorite childhood hobbies were visiting cemeteries and eavesdropping on adult conversations. Her ancestral DNA is multi-ethnic and she is Mormon pioneer stock on every familial line. Joanna resides in the Southeastern USA with her five children ranging in age from 8 to 24. Her husband passed away in 2009. She is an avid reader and a student of history. Her current intellectual obsession is Sephardic Jewish history, influence and genealogy. She served as a board member for her local chapter of Families with Children from China. She is the author of “DNA Mormons?” Summer Sunstone 2007 and “Becoming Hong Mei`s Mother” in the Winter Sunstone 2009

16 thoughts on “The Meanest, Scariest Mama in the Whole County

  1. I hope to be a mama just like you. And you are protecting your young’uns not only from embarrassing you, but from doing something stupid that they will regret later. I didn’t do anything stupid because I knew that my mom would find out-and that would have killed me. I think a lot of teenage shenanigans (and trouble) would be prevented if parents were just more aware of what was going on in their kids lives and actually talked to their kids about it. I can’t tell you how many parents know about what kind of trouble their kids are getting into but are afraid to confront them about it.

  2. Yeah, the Facebook thing is key. I monitor my teenaged daughter’s Facebook all the time and it causes her endless embarrassment. I’m pretty mean too, but it’s mostly the constant monitoring, which apparently parents don’t do anymore.

  3. Right on!

    At my youngest daughter’s preschool I’m probably known for smiling at the kids and supporting my wife’s occasional piano-playing appearances there.

    I hope to have my children spend gobs of time with their friends at our house when they are teens. Sure beats the mall.

  4. Ben, I cringe everytime I set foot in the mall. My wife and I are raising our daughter to appreciate modest, tasteful clothing. Some of the items that these teenagers wear in the mall could hardly be described as clothing (my definition of clothing is something that covers the body).

  5. Bookslinger- I don’t remember too much about Bill Cosbys’s mother, but it seems like he had a scary mother and father. He himself was scary too.
    a-Thanks for stopping by. Wise words.
    Geoff- Isn’t Facebook great for learning about friends and what the kids are saying and are up to? Good tool, if used properly, for parents.
    BBell-Thanks BBell. We try. We don’t always succeed.
    Craig- I have not seen that movie. Sounds good. It will have to check it out. Thanks for stopping by.
    BYU Women’s Services- AMEN
    Brian- I really am not that mean. It is the other parents who are wimps. When I was at BYU a hundred years ago majoring in Elementary Ed; I had to take an extra course on discipline cause I was too much of a weenie with kids. It helped to toughen me up.
    Thanks Ben and Brian. Mall bad. Home good. Actually the boys have not spent any time at the mall. Not that they have wanted to. Neither is a fashion slave. Now Jie Jie is approaching her teen years. I will have to figure out how to negotiate the mall experience. Anybody have any ideas?

  6. Hi~J,
    Yeah that is what we do now. At some point in the near future she will want to go to the mall with her friends only; not with her mom. I suspect the whine will start in the next year.

  7. Joanna, you have inspired me to be an even meaner and scarier Dad than I already am, which is pretty darned scary and mean. My 13-year-old has friends on Facebook who tell her how much they “f-ing love her.” ALL THE TIME! She is graduating from middle school and will not see most of her best friends at the new school she is going to, so they all write these messages of undying 13-year-old appreciation for each other, including extensive profanity, which is apparently how young women express affection these days. Anyway, I told my daughter this was unacceptable language and she needed to tell her friends in the nicest way possible that their comments would be deleted from her Facebook page. A week passed, and nothing, and then she deleted me as one of her friends so I couldn’t monitor the account anymore. This was war!!!

    So, I wrote very polite notes to her friends letting them know that they couldn’t use that kind of language on my daughter’s Facebook page. And they immediately told her, and then I got a panicky call from my daughter crying that I was “ruining her life” by contacting her friends directly. I told her there was an easy solution: just delete the profanity from her Facebook page, and restore me as a friend, and in the future delete all profanity from her Facebook page. After much drama, she did it, and her life has not been ruined. I LOVE being a mean, scary daddy!

    I will point out that I received an unsolicited e-mail from one of my daugher’s friends thanking me for monitoring the Facebook pages and telling me what I good parent I was. I sent that to my daughter, who now admits grudgingly that I didn’t completely ruin her life.

  8. OOHH Geoff, You just made my day. Good for YOU!!! Will you be my mentor as I begin the whole teen thing with Jie Jie? The boys are just not as dramatic, but they can wear you down with negotiations. Pre-teen and teen girls are so animated and emotional. I think, raising a teen girl will be harder than teen boys.

  9. Geoff – loved that story. Just like when kids are toddlers, they need boundaries enforced even when they are kicking and screaming about them, and they will be happier for it in the long run. You may even get thanked for it some day!

    I found that when my two oldest hit middle school, and the ban on offensive language from elementary school was lifted, whoooweee, did the manure hit the fan! With most kids, the novelty wore off. Facebook and texting hadn’t quite hit the scene. MySpace appeared and IM was a popular forum and I noticed the cursing was heavy there. So I agree with letting it be known that you are monitoring those sites and being Facebook friends with your kids’ friends. I’m always pleasantly surprised that many of them friend-request me first.

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