Everyone’s a Critic (Especially My Kids)

11 03 2012

Just another day at the office

As a comedian and author one of the things that I get asked a lot is how I handle a bad review.

Well, it depends.

If I’m onstage at a comedy club and a heckler starts slinging his Bud Light-induced opinions at me it’s pretty easy to verbally bitch-slap him back down to size. Usually he’s too drunk to even conjugate a verb properly, let alone form a complete sentence that doesn’t include the words “You suck!” In many cases, all I have to do is just stand there and let him dig his own grave (kind of like the Republican debates).

But a bad review in the media is another story. It’s become the accepted way for anyone to declare your art is crap, and unfortunately there’s not a darn thing you can do about it. For some reason if people read it on the Internet, hear it on the radio or see it on TV, then they think it MUST be true. Your only option is to develop a thick skin. But then critics come after you for being either aloof or outspoken, claiming you’ve evolved into nothing more than a jaded cynic.

What do they know? They’re just assholes.

If you like my blog, you'll love this book

This was my “seasoned” attitude when I had a radio interview not that long ago to plug my book Confessions of a Band Geek Mom, a hilarious account of how I gave up celebrity as a Southern California stand-up comic to become a stay-at-home mom… in Utah… and I’m not even Mormon. What the hell was I thinking? (Well, you’ll just have to read Confessions of a Band Geek Mom to find out. It’s on Amazon. If you like my blog you’ll love my book.)

In this case I thought it’d be fun to include my two teenage sons. Of course, the radio host was thrilled to have them on. Not wasting any time he quickly got down to business, asking my boys, “So is everything your mom wrote about you true?” I looked at my adoring children waiting for unconditional praise to flow trippingly off their tongues.

“No, it’s just a bunch of stuff my mom made up,” said my 13-year-old matter-of-factly.

Wait, what? No, that’s not true. I started to object, but the radio host was quicker. “Are you saying she lied?”

“She exaggerates, making things funnier than they really are.”

“Stop right there,” I interjected. “You KNOW the events in my book are absolutely true.” I turned to my older son, “Derrick, help me out here.”

Stunned, he looked like I’d unexpectedly asked him to perform emergency surgery. “Well, um, yes, the things you write about did sort of happen…”

“But not the way you say,” finished my 13-year-old.

WTF? All of sudden I’m being heckled by my offspring, and since I am quite fond them, I don’t feel compelled to verbally cut them off at the knees, as I would any other critic who suddenly got in my face on live radio.

Instead, the conversation quickly devolved into a family debate over things like whether or not they really do miss their mark when using the toilet and if my younger son really did refer to his older brother’s first attempt at a stick shift as “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride—only wilder.” (For the record, YES to both. It’s all documented truthfully in my book.)

In the middle of my older son trying to mediate between my younger son and me, I turned to the radio host and said, “I’m so sorry. I didn’t think it would be like this.”

“That’s okay,” he said. “This is great radio.”

And that’s when I realized we were treading dangerously close to Jerry Springer territory. So I decided to end this ridiculous discourse immediately.

“Hey! Perspective is everything,” I said in my big, bad Mommy voice. “This is my truth. If you guys see things differently go write your own damn books!”

Not quite the loving mother-son moment I’d hoped for, but they did pipe down when I admitted the stories were told through my reality filter, giving some credence to their objections.

At no time had I ever questioned what my kids thought about my stories. They’d read them, laughed in all the right places, and appeared to enjoy them. But until that point no one had asked them if they believed the stories to be true. Wow. How could I have missed that? I gave our family radio experience a lot of thought, and after looking at it from all sides I realized I learned a valuable lesson that day:

Never ask your kids their opinion of your work, especially if your work is writing about them.

Ah, yes. Enlightenment feels great.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Did you like this post? If so, please click on the banner below to vote for me as a Top Mommy Blogger on TopMommyBlogger.com. I don’t win anything except a higher search engine ranking, plus bragging rights to my kids that I’m not as dorky as they think. (Okay, well maybe I am that dorky, but at least I’ll be easier to find on the Web.)

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Stacy Dymalski is a stand-up comic who gave up the glamorous life of coach travel, smokey comedy clubs, and heckling drunks for the glamourous life of raising kids (who happen to be bigger hecklers than the drunks). This blog is her new stage.

For more of Stacy’s comedy check out her hilarious book Confessions of a Band Geek Mom available in paperback and on Kindle on Amazon.com.


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39 responses

11 03 2012
Brian Westbye

At least you can ground these hecklers…

11 03 2012
Stacy Dymalski

So true, Brian! Although I have to be careful, just in case some day THEY DO write their own books! 😉

11 03 2012
creatorofstuff

Mine would disown me. Yours are much more evolved.

11 03 2012
Stacy Dymalski

I don’t know if it’s so much “evolved” as it’s just they’ve grown up watching me talk about my life onstage, and since they’re a big part of my life they’re part of the deal. In fact, when Derrick was in elementary school he even joined in on some of the improv comedy “work outs” I had with various improv comedy troupes I was in.

Regardless of that, my sons still don’t keep their rooms clean. So honestly, how “evolved” can they really be?

11 03 2012
Caro

Love it! Amazing how our kids can humble us…

11 03 2012
Stacy Dymalski

I know what you mean! I’ve publicly stared down some of the most obnoxious hecklers in my day, and yet when my younger son took issue with my stories on live radio, suddenly I was sweatin’ bullets! Our children really are our Achilles Heels. No matter how strong you think you are, they can bring you to your knees at a moment’s notice (and sometimes without even trying).

11 03 2012
The Waiting

This is why I often wish I had never given my mom the URL to my blog. She tends to remember a lot of things differently from me and heckles me about them at family dinners. And let me tell you, although the dinner table may have a smaller audience than that of a radio program, she can certainly make me work up a sweat!

Awesome post!

11 03 2012
Stacy Dymalski

Emily, I have never met your mom, but I feel like I know her from reading about her in your blog. She sounds like a wonderful lady and I can just picture those family dinners where she suddenly weighs in on your childhood, counter to what you remember. I would love to be a fly on the wall during those conversations!

Funny how time colors all of our individual memories differently.

Just think, soon YOU’LL be the mom who someday argues with her child about truth and history. Take it from me, you may want to write some things down.

11 03 2012
Kat

My son reads my posts and often comments as well. Thankfully I’m never on the radio.

And your kids probably will write their own books so hopefully you have some great bribes available.

11 03 2012
Stacy Dymalski

I hope my kids do write their own personal stories someday. I would love to see their perspective…and of course graciously “correct” it for them, as only a mom can do. 😀

P.S. I think it’s so cool that your son reads your posts and comments. Mine read my posts, but they don’t comment. I wish they would! (Or maybe I should be careful what I wish for…)

11 03 2012
All that makes you...

That would be a terrifying experience. My kids have a very different recollection of many of our family events. 😉

12 03 2012
Stacy Dymalski

True, but I contend that it’s Mom’s recollections that are truly the most reliable. (She said, modestly.)

11 03 2012
mommyeverything1

This was great!! My sons (all 4) cant read yet but I can TOTALLY see them reacting like yours did.

12 03 2012
Stacy Dymalski

It’s funny, but by the time they’re 13 they think they know everything…until they reach about age 30, at which time they fully admit they really know nothing. (Or so I’m told by my friends with older kids…we’ll see.)

13 03 2012
mommyeverything1

I have to admit I am a little scared. The boys can be pretty harsh now I cant even imagine 4 teens in the house at the same time!! I just saw a great post about when the boys grow up and get married (yuck). let me know if you want the link, it was great 🙂

13 03 2012
Stacy Dymalski

I would love to see the link. When you get a chance go ahead and post it here and I’ll take a look at it. Always love to read things that my readers recommend. Thanks!

14 03 2012
mommyeverything1

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jenny-isenman/moms-of-boys_b_1320116.html

this is one of the best mommy of boys posts! enjoy!!

14 03 2012
mommyeverything1

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jenny-isenman/moms-of-boys_b_1320116.html

wasnt sure if this worked the first time – sorry!

14 03 2012
Stacy Dymalski

Thanks! That was a great read! I loved it so much I posted it on my Facebook wall AND I retweeted it. I can SO relate to what the author says. My oldest moves out next year to go to college. I CANNOT believe that. My heart is already gearing up for a lot of conflicting feelings. Expect some pretty poignant (yet funny) posts in the next year.

Thanks again!

14 03 2012
mommyeverything1

OMG i had to do kindergarten registration today and was sad, cant imagine college!!! cant wait for the posts 🙂
ps – nice to “meet” you

11 03 2012
misslisted

Funny! I made the BIG stupid mistake of showing my blog to my oldest child, who was the subject of my very first post and he was NOT PLEASED. I never intended to offend him, but he is so sensitive, I was a dope. I don’t think he’s ever bothered to look at my blog since, so I’m not too worried about it and truly, the kids are a lot of the reason I desperately need the catharsis of blogging anyway….

12 03 2012
Stacy Dymalski

Isn’t it funny that we as parents never intend to offend our kids by talking about their pasts, we just intended to retell history. And somewhere along the way our kids get miffed about that retelling. Go figure.

I agree with you blogging and writing books about your family (and especially your kids) is way cheaper than therapy. I originally got into it when after my son was born and I could go on the road any more. It was (and still is) my release.

11 03 2012
Dee Macaluso

That’s what you get for modeling honesty to your children.

12 03 2012
Stacy Dymalski

I know, right? I mean, come on, how can you rely on the memory of a tween when he’s only been on the planet for 13 years? Thank goodness I’m around to set him straight. 😉

12 03 2012
Ruth2Day

loved this. It’s one thing to have your kids dispute you at home, but another on-air! I’m betting it brought a lot of interest in your book 🙂

I’ve heard this said before, but is it true that all reviews, good or bad, or good for you, in that it gives you exposure?

12 03 2012
Stacy Dymalski

Yes, surprisingly book sales spiked the week our true family dynamics aired. I was actually a little surprised by that, until I realized that the people who were listening in were pretty much in the same boat when it comes to family perceptions.

And yes, they say there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but no matter how thick-skinned you get, it always still stings a little when someone attacks your artistic attempts in public. It’s like someone saying your child is ugly.

13 03 2012
Ruth2Day

thanks for replying 🙂

12 03 2012
mariathermann

Fortunately, I don’t have kids or relatives who could heckle me or question the truthfulness of my writing…but I guess the old adage, never work with animals or children must have some truth to it. Enjoyed reading this very much.

12 03 2012
Stacy Dymalski

You are so right! Never work with animals or kids…especially when they all live in your house! I learned the hard way. (However, I’m not going to stop writing about my kids. I’m just going to stop taking them with me on interviews.)

12 03 2012
Sandra Parsons

Ah, I’m sure they just wanted to publicly humiliate you like any good teenage son would. Secretly they probably totally adore your work and think that it’s all an absolutely accurate account of the happenings. You know, at that age, they just have to disagree, it’s an age-related compulsion.

12 03 2012
Stacy Dymalski

Yes, you’re right. I have to keep that in mind. It’s their JOB to be disagreeable, no matter what the topic. They can’t stand it that Mom is always right! 😉

12 03 2012
Carol H. Rives

I would have loved to hear that radio interview! Kids are the hecklers of our world, as a mother, right?

I look forward to reading your book! I love “true” parenting stories!

12 03 2012
Stacy Dymalski

Thanks you so much, Carol! I’m looking forward to you reading my book and hearing what you think about it. You can always post a comment on my blog OR (better yet) post a review on my book’s Amazon page. I always love hearing from readers, especially when they share similar experiences.

12 03 2012
annettevelarde

We know our teenagers think we suck, yet when they actually tell us we’re shocked. I’d bet every parent from the beginning of time has been surprised to find out their adoring babes grew up to be hormone-filled cynics that wonder how we get out of the house in the morning we’re so dumb. This, I think, is God’s grand joke and he’s laughs at the punch line every time!

12 03 2012
Stacy Dymalski

I know, what’s up with being surprised when you find out your teenagers think you’re a goon? In my case it wasn’t that (I know they think I’m wacked), I was shocked that they looked at my stories as fiction. Because they’d read them before and never objected, it’s just that no one ever asked them if they were true until that interview. Minor (in every sense of the word) details.

And yes, I’m sure God is laughing at us all the time. Making us parents when we don’t know what the hell we’re doing is the biggest joke yet.

13 03 2012
metan

At least you know that when (maybe that should read if) they compliment you on your work it will be totally honest appreciation. Obviously they have no need to make you feel good just for the sake of it!
My 11yo is Mr Honesty and my go-to man when I want the truth. The rest of the family will just tell me what they think I want to hear!

13 03 2012
Stacy Dymalski

You are so right. If you want an honest answer, just ask your kid. (Or just about any kid, for that matter.) At least I know when my kids do give me a compliment it’s from the heart. (Even if, at this point, their compliments to me are few and far between. But then again they ARE teenagers.)

Thanks for reading my blog and taking the time to comment. I really appreciate it!

15 03 2012
goodoldgirl

I’ve nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award. Great posts, keep ‘em coming!

18 03 2012
Stacy Dymalski

Thanks! I really appreciate that! I’ve actually already been nominated for the Versatile Blogger once before, however, I’m going to write about your nomination anyway, and then make a note on my homepage that I’ve been nominated for it TWICE.

Thanks again! It means a lot to me that you’re enjoying my posts and that you’ve been chosen to follow my blog.

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