On Wednesday evenings I’ve taken to watching TV with my daughter. It’s her one night off from gym practice and after she finishes homework, she likes to tune in to a controversial reality show called Toddlers & Tiaras. I grimaced through a few episodes of overbearing mothers parading their kids through grotesque beauty pageants until I came away with an enlightened view of the whole thing. Here is what I’ve learned:
Delusion begins with hair and makeup. The line between reality and psychosis is drawn with Maybelline Master Drama Brow and Eye Pencils.
There is no end to delusion. You can just keep piling it on.
There are no bad kids. There are just bad adults behaving like bad kids. And bad kids behaving like really, really bad adults.
The husbands are the sane ones. Just admitting this makes me crazy.
The room is empty except for you. The chairs are mostly vacant, the competition is entirely imaginary, and the judges wish they could disappear.
When you win, you lose. When they crown you a Queen, or Most Beautiful, or Best Talent, or Miss Congeniality, it means you didn’t win. In fact, it means you finished last. You don’t want those titles or sashes. Spit on them! You have to lose for a chance to win big, by coming back onstage later, when you really don’t win.
It’s all about you. “We keep doing this because she really loves it.” At the end of the show, when the kids are maniacal with hunger or exhaustion, tearing off the butt-ugly $1200 dresses that will take their parents two years to pay for, all the moms and dads say that. But it’s not true. You keep coming back because you don’t have a life! You’re sick, or bored, or you don’t want to make dinner, or fold laundry, or pay the bills, or face reality! You keep coming back for a chance to sit in a room with your own child, or at least I do! I’ll keep doing this because this show gives me a piercing view of my own shit while reminding me that if I’m not careful I could be a much worse parent than I am.
I’ll be back because this show is about me.
“Mom, do you see now why I watch this show?”
“Yes, I do, honey. I’m afraid I really do.”