(A spoiler warning if you haven’t seen the most recent episode of Mad Men and a trigger warning if you’re a Betty hater)
Sunday’s Mad Men saw Betty going on a field trip to a farm with Bobby. Things were going swimmingly—Bobby was happy to have his pretty mama there, Betty drank some straight-from-the-utter milk and shared some snarkiness with another mom—until Bobby and Betty sat down for a picnic lunch. While Betty was away washing her hands before eating (interestingly, she didn’t see the need for Bobby to wash his hands, and we all know how gross kids are), Bobby traded Betty’s sandwich to another kid for some gum drops. When Betty finds out, she is PISSED. Aside from some hints at disordered eating (Bobby assumed that Betty wouldn’t eat, I guess because she rarely does, and Betty makes Bobby eat the candy that he clearly now feels bad about having procured), the real focus was on how pouty and immature Betty was about the whole thing. Bobby ruined a perfectly good field trip! How dare he!
While Betty’s reaction was just awful, I sort of feel for her a bit on this one. She’s been riding on a school bus and smelling livestock and drinking milk out of a bucket and stepping over cow patties while wearing heels and dealing with a bunch of kids all morning. All she wanted was a damned sandwich. She was hangry, for God’s sake. Being the responsible adult is hard sometimes, especially when your kids do something like, say, give away your lunch. When my ten-year-old screams at me when I tell her to clean her room that I’m an evil demon, it would be so gratifying to yell back, “I know you are, but what I am?” When my six-year-old whines yet again that he doesn’t like what I’ve packed in his lunchbox, it would be great to just stick my tongue out at him.
I’m ashamed to admit that on occasion I have sunk to Betty’s level and gotten pissed and pouted like a spoiled brat because of something my kids have done, and as in Betty’s case, it’s often happened when we are doing something special. I think the expectations are so much higher during those times—This is supposed to be fun, dammit!–and, when one of the kids does something irksome, it can feel like they have ruined everything. Afterwards, I’ve seen the same sense of shock, sadness, and guilt on my kids’ faces as Bobby had on his. I’ve felt the same sense of having fucked up royally that Betty feels later in the episode.
I don’t think I’m quite as terrible a parent as Betty is. I mean I’ve never dragged my daughter by the hair and locked her in a closet or told my son when he complained of being bored that “only boring people are bored” and that he should just go bang his head against a wall. But there are moments when one of my kids pushes just the right button or catches me at just the wrong time and boom! I go into full-on petty Betty mode. Seeing that play out on a TV screen was kind of jarring for me and made me realize how horrible those instances are for my kids. I need to do better by them. Just as long as they don’t mess with my lunch.
Whoa, mean Betty, bam-ba-lam!