I don't think Betty Draper's a very good mother but there's one thing she does every week on "Mad Men" that I truly admire.
At her terse command to "Go upstairs," Betty's children wordlessly untangle their legs, stand up, turn off the TV and do exactly that. Not even so much as a "Just two more hours of Mario Kart, pulleeeeeezzz." (Although, to be fair, the show is set in 1963 so it's not like the kids are being asked to give up that much.)
She says it all the time, even if the table is set for dinner and you know the kids are going to have to amuse themselves for at least another hour while she swirls a drink at the kitchen table with moody husband Don, and smokes a cigarette or 12.
When the kids are outside playing and it's time to get cleaned up, Betty steps onto the front porch, puts her hands on her hips and says, "Go inside." And they do. No back talk. No rolled eyes. No negotiations.
At first I figured they were just scared of her - Betty Draper is about as nurturing as Drano after all. In fact, she often looks at her kids with utter curiosity as if she can't quite figure out how these short people came to live in her house. But then I have to realize that things were different then. Parents said what they wanted; children, for the most part, complied, a notion that's almost unthinkable in this age of kid-centric households.
Betty Draper would never tolerate a boy named Artemis Battlestar or some such with tangled shoulder-length curls and a stained favorite T-shirt pledging allegiance to a greener planet. She'd merely level her imperious gaze at him and say: "Change your clothes."
And, following that, "Tell your father to take you to the barber."
Although I don't really want to be Betty Draper, it would be refreshing to be able to say something one time and have my will be done. I tried to channel Betty this morning. Standing at the Princess's bedside, I smoothed my vintage apron, folded my arms across my chest and tapped my high-heeled foot before flicking a wayward shred of imaginary tobacco from my front tooth.
Nothing. Not even a slight movement of the covers despite the fact that the alarm clock had gone off 10 minutes earlier.
A gentle stirring, then a muffled "I don't want to go to school."
"I'm going to get your Father."
Too late. She was already asleep again.
Betty Draper makes it look so easy through her Miltown-induced cold-calm.
I look up, helplessly, at Robert Pattinson's face above the bed. Finally, I sigh and walk out defeated.
"Wuss," I can hear Betty Draper hiss.