In second grade, my best friend and I fought like sisters over our Barbie collections. I was an only child, therefore my Barbies were ladies – always properly clothed with flowing platinum blonde coifs, perfect manicures and, for that matter, limbs. Growing up in a house of clearly sadistic boys, my friend’s Barbies were all barefoot amputee punk rock hussies. Her Barbie was lucky to even get invited to my Barbie’s fourth wedding to Ken; but when she found out she was being seated in the back of reception with all the other hopeless single Barbies? She called my mother. Ten minutes later I was down one Barbie and to this day I cringe to think of the inauguration into Barbie’s Hell House she must have received. But there’s something to be gleaned from my brilliant-before-her-time frenemy – he who plays the mother card always wins.
Most of us dropped the “I’m telling” behavior decades ago, but after the last few weeks I’ve had I propose we bring it back. Imagine if you will, a world where the cable guy never misses his curfew, your boyfriend always cleans his room and your coworkers always say please and thank you. Bank doesn’t want to credit your late fee? Call their mother. Barista get your no foam tall skinny mocha latte too foamy? Call their mother. Waiter too slow? Leave a meager tip with a note that says “calling your mother.”
This practice could be of particular benefit at work. Rather than cc’ing the boss of your peer who has been dodging your inquiries, cc their mother. Allow mothers to wander the workplace at various intervals scoping for untidy cubes and “misplaced” office supplies. Have a mother present at every meeting to ensure attendance is monitored, p’s and q’s are minded, gold stars are awarded, and allowance is divvied up appropriately. Get a stupid question? A mother will be there to lovingly respond to their child, “Reread this email sweetheart she answered your thoughtless question already.” Get cornered by a hoverer anxious for you to wrap up her post-mortem report? Her mother will materialize and put her in the corner with June Cleaver stealth. The days of write-ups and pink slips and HR seminars on workplace behavior would be over, the productivity in your office would skyrocket, and you’d probably get a few meatloaf recipes out of the deal.
It’s a bold move to play the mother card, but only a mother’s quick wit and grounded-for-life powers can put the grown up children (and Barbie-hoarding brats) of the world in their place.