Rehab for rascals, cookies for sinners

Categorized as 05/04/09 Goshen News column

If there is any vocation today that virtually requires an applicant to be bipolar, it would certainly be motherhood. This, of all jobs, requires a delicate balance of law and grace, mercy and justice, and the hardness of a brick wall combined with the softness of a down comforter.

It is these very qualities, I believe, that make a mother eminently qualified for a number of other important positions. Take a prison, for instance. Who is better equipped to fill the shoes of a prison warden than a mom? After all, she’s had plenty of experience with being hard on crime. That “three strikes, you’re out” policy? She invented that.

Furthermore, a mother comes with a built-in lie detector. She can smell a fishy story at 50 paces. This is certainly an important qualification when working with miscreants. To their chagrin, she knows where that bar of soap is and how to use it.

The fact that she is experienced at quelling riots and is completely unmoved when the tide of popular opinion turns against her is another big plus. In addition, she knows when to be the long arm of the law, tapping a sinner on the shoulder and stopping him in his tracks, and she knows when a true repenter should be sent up for parole. This will stand her in good stead in the prison yard.

Knowing that hard labor goes a long way toward working the mischief out of rascals, she will provide opportunities for rehabilitation, such as an enormous garden that requires daily weeding. The more fussing and complaining there is among the general population, the more weeding they “get” to do.

When they realize there is an inverse relationship between the two, the grumbling will die down in a hurry and peace will be restored. If it doesn’t, then the grumblers are consigned to watching the non-grumblers having milk and cookies after their jobs are done. This is called the “you can see the Oreos, you just can’t have the Oreos” punishment. She actually hopes that word of such harsh conditions leaks out to other would-be felons, thereby averting others from a life of crime. Yes, this is tough, tough love.

Another job that would be perfect for a mother is the Secretary of Health and Human Services position. The stated goal of this department is “protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves.”

See? That’s exactly what I mean. This is what a mom naturally does every day. This is why she makes her kids wash their hands and brush their teeth and actually take baths no matter how much they holler and squirm.

It’s why she makes them eat their vegetables. She is impervious to protest marches around the dinner table complete with hand-lettered signs. In fact, the more they march, the more veggies she piles on, effectively squelching further expressions of outrage.

It’s this concern for the health of her family that causes her to wade in where angels fear to tread and tackle messes that make grown men in HazMat suits turn pale. She’s simply protecting their health and providing essential services for the helpless. If anyone can get a nation to eat their greens and lay low on the fries, it’s her.

A gutsy mom is desperately needed down at Guantanamo Bay. Forget the recent debates about how to extract valuable information from thugs and bad guys. Let’s quit messing around and send in the mother. She is a goldmine of interrogation tactics and can squeeze the last little tidbit of info out of the most recalcitrant terrorist. If she can make the wooden Indians tell all when they get off the bus every day, then wringing important national secrets out of these guys is mere child’s play. I say, turn her loose.

One more place that could use a mother’s oversight is Congress. Having eyes in the back of the head and a built-in lie detector would certainly come in handy here. All I’m asking is that they station one little mama in both the Senate and the House to keep an eye on those lawmakers. If anyone can catch thievery in action, not to mention fibbing and sleight of hand, it’s a mom.

Imagine how helpful it would be if every time a politician told a whopper on the floor, her lie detector would go off and she’d throw a red flag. Show that on CNN and watch the backpedaling begin.

They’d soon learn that the old “what’s that over there” trick doesn’t work, either. She’s way past that. There’s no sneaking a tax hike past this tough cookie, and there’s a sharp rap on the knuckles for the unlucky chap who tries it.

At the end of the day, a mother gladly offers liberty and justice for all, including repentant sinners and politicians. She may even offer a cookie. Just don’t think you can fool her and slink away with two.

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