Blame Elvis

“It is Elvis’ fault.”  That’s what my grandparents said about the blue eye shadow, doing “the bump”, wide neckties, and the tube tops of my generation as their eyes popped out of their heads while watching the first adult male in televised history get “All Shook Up.”  Rock and Roll was declared a devil and Elvis had horns.


Flash forward 50 years.  Sorry, Grandma.   The problem with kids today are video games and the  associated violence, isolation, and seduction.   Seduction– it is a two horned devil:  (1) pornographic stereotypes of the game characters, and (2)  addicting the player to level after level of play as a precious childhood clock goes tick, tock.  Isolation is the cruelest side effect of the three because it sneaks up and becomes a way of life.  Isolation and seduction are related.  Players get addicted to the game levels and spend extended periods of time clicking a controller and fighting for life on a blinking-flashing-noisy screen,  alone.   A L O N E  becomes safe.    You don’t have to risk acceptance or rejection.  You don’t have to meet people, exchange ideas, or practice the art of conversation.  You don’t have to play an instrument, be judged, solve problems, help someone, or walk the dog.


I figured this out in the 1980′s when Super Mario Brothers came out.  My oldest was five.  One day we were playing the game and he had the controls because I couldn’t make the guys move or jump right (yet).   He was successfully passing level after level and we were both really into it.  Then there was a hard level and I was yelling at the TV.  He kept trying and we both kept pushing.  Eventually he threw up all over the carpet from stress.  It scared me.  I had no idea of the real dynamics at play.   I had unknowingly placed so much expectation on this five year old that he got sick.

We all learned to play these games with more care and caution.   I realized how addictive and isolating Super Mario Brothers was because I tried it and I liked it.  I started to play the game too much and recognized it when I would say things like, “Go make your own bowl of cereal, I’ve got to get past the lava.”   Eventually I accepted that Luigi was bad for me and for my family. It dawned on me…. POOF–”Elvis” was in the building.


So, we quit “gaming” and I became the mean mom when I said,  “Get out there and build a snowman” or “go outside and ride bikes” and when John and I asked the kids each night, “What did you do today to make the world a better place?”  Sure, I let them play some video games (who wants to raise a dork?) but time was regulated and we fought the games by creating an interactive family life.  We took the kids camping, fishing, rollerblading, water skiing, and played board games or cards.   We gave them chores.  We went to their grandparent’s houses as much as possible.   We tried to make our family more entertaining, balanced, and challenging than a video game.  It was hard because when the kids played video games, we had freedom.


Today, knowing how much time I spend texting, fiddling with my ipad, BLOGGING, downloading my itunes, editing photos, “talking” on facebook, and checking my gmail as an adult,  I HAVE NO IDEA HOW PARENTS PARENT TODAY.  All this tech stuff is just as addictive, too!  I catch myself isolated and find ways to justify it.  I have to be my own cop.   OMG…Elvis is in the building!


In the end, I grew up okay (so far) and my kids grew up okay (maybe).   I find myself swirling in a sea of worry– just like my grandparents.  For what it is worth, maybe some of my Mean Mom Rules can bring a little  “Mayberry, U.S.A.”  to you and yours.  My kids still hate me for them and I consider it of a badge of honor.  (wink)




  • Your bedroom is for sleeping or reading which meant:  1.  No phone in your room.  2.  No TV in your room.  3. No computer in your room.  Sure we all had access, but in family friendly areas of the home.
  •  Nothing good happens after 10 o’clock (p.m.)  This rule was very useful during the high school years.  I really didn’t care if they stayed out later, but I didn’t want them heading out to something at about that time.
  • “No, you are NEVER going to the mall.”
  • If I catch you driving with another human being in the car, your “wheels” are gone FOREVER.
  • I have eyes in the back of my head; don’t make me use them.
  • If you slam your bedroom door, I will take out the pins and you won’t have one.
  • Please love each other when you grow up.
  • Come home after every dance…no guy’s room and girl’s rooms at area hotels or going up north afterwards.  WTH!!!
  • Don’t tell me about everybody.  I didn’t give birth to them.
  • Don’t make me take off my shoe.
  • If you are at a party and drink, don’t drive…call me and I will come and get you–no questions asked.
  • Don’t lie – Mothers know everything and what we don’t know, we find out.
  • No tattoos, no smoking, and no body piercing.  You don’t want to go “there.”
  • Remember who your best friend is when the sh*t hits the fan.  I’m your first call.



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