Recently, while I was attending my second protest of the year (the second of many, probably) I noticed something I had not seen at the first: two young men standing off to the side with their faces covered. One was holding an American flag, and the other the flag of the Confederate States. (I don’t think they knew that those two flags were still not on speaking terms). When pictures of the two men appeared online, the majority of the comments, of course, were negative. People called them cowards, and racists, and much worse. Except for one commentator. She stuck up for them (or at least for the boy with the Stars and Bars), and suggested that maybe, just maybe, he wasn’t a racist at all. Maybe he was just a YUGE fan of The Dukes of Hazzard.
Well, the internet being what it is, it wasn’t long before the identity of the masked Bo and Luke fan was revealed, which then led to the revelation of the identity of his defender: a woman about twenty-five years older than him who just happened to share his last name.
In other words, his mom.
Because of course, even when the entire world is against you, and even when the entire world is utterly right to be that way, there will always be your mom.
I remember once, when my daughter Clementine was twelve, getting a phone call from one of her teachers about a word she’d typed on the giant classroom screen for all to see. (This word is actually one of my favorite words to type as well, much to the apparent chagrin of autocorrect, which seems to think I’m trying—and failing—to type ‘duck’ fifty times a day. It’s gotten to the point where I wonder if aotocorect thinks that perhaps I am an ornithologist.) Anyway, even if the word in question hadn’t been one of my own personal favorites, it still would have been my job to defend Clementine’s public expression of it—at least a little bit. “Maybe it was a commentary on the current social situation…?” I hedged. “Maybe,” came the response. “Regardless, she’s still getting detention.”
And she did. Because she deserved it. And yet, it was still my job to (kind of) stick up for her. But that didn’t stop me from wishing that I hadn’t had to.
I’d like to think that Cooter’s mom feels the same way. That she read the comments and thought, “My god, I do love that boy but he sure does get up to some nonsense these days. I hadn’t even realized he’d left the basement.” And then she went online and defended him.
Look: there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that these are trying times. In the very near future there are probably going to be lots of instances of moms having to defend the actions of their children, even when they don’t quite agree with or understand those actions—on both sides. And, remarkably, that’s just what they’ll do, because the vows of “in sickness and health” you take when you get married have nothing on the vows of “in dumbassery and wisdom” that you (mentally) take when you become a mom. As I have stated many times over the years (mostly in mutters under my breath), there simply is no way to divorce your children.
Of course, I may have this whole thing wrong. Maybe this guy’s mom is also a dumbass, and her defense of him was genuine. Maybe he was carrying a symbol of white supremacy because that’s the way she raised him. It’s a possibility, albeit a depressing one. Which is why I’m going to stick with my original theory. Because, when given the option of choosing between two different explanations, I’m going to choose the one that contains love.
Every. Damn. Time.