When everyone is watching

I am embarrassed to admit that I know way too much about the big Katie Holmes/Tom Cruise divorce story. I have read the reports on the clandestine cell phone calls, Katie’s shrewd decision to establish New York residency, and the hiring of a top-secret security detail. If I were to trust everything currently written, it seems Katie plotted her escape as though she was defecting from a communist bloc state.

The public’s interest in the story is obvious: the young, beautiful starlet flees the couch-jumping former heartthrob who believes we all descended from the planet Krypton. Reading up on the whole Katie-Tom saga was a way for me to feel a little superior about my thoroughly boring, non-celebrity life. I shop at Target. I drive the kids to camp. I do laundry. And at no time during any of this am I shown on the cover of The National Enquirer or People Magazine with my kids in tow.

The fact that a child is involved brings some shame to my fascination. Despite my repeated vows to never judge another mom, I am quite hypocritical and merciless when it comes to the Hollywood set:

C’mon Katie. You still let that kid have a bottle and a pacifier? Whaddya thinking??

Why in the world is Suri wearing heels? She’s 6 for chrissakes.

How about just ONE photo of you and your daughter doing something OTHER than SHOPPING? Sheesh.

I know, I know. I was a hater. I regret it now. Because despite everything, these are not imaginary characters designed solely for my entertainment purposes. There is real pain going on, and it is all being broadcast daily courtesy of the unrelenting media.

So when Katie’s refusal to buy little Suri a puppy made national news, I was shocked. The child’s tearful meltdown was captured and some circuits demanded to know why Katie didn’t cave and buy the dog for the distraught child.

What was that again?

Did the national media just make Katie the villain for not rewarding the tantrum? Are you kidding me? We all know the first lesson of Parenting 101: Never-ever under any circumstances or moment of weariness reward a child’s tantrum – it empowers the mighty beast and permanently undermines any authority you have struggled years to establish.

Rewarding a kid’s tantrum is akin to crossing the streams of the Proton Pack or feeding Gizmo after midnight. Yet now a whole mob of puppy-loving Suri-sympathizers are calling for Katie’s head.

I applaud Katie for having the inner strength to stick to her guns while the entire world watched and judged. It reminds me of a day on the playground not so long ago. Danny was being exceptionally defiant and lippy, ignoring repeated requests to amend his behavior. He felt sure I would not publicly call him out on his disobedience with a group of neighborhood moms hovering nearby.

He obviously didn’t know me well enough.

For the entire 100 yards it took to march my belligerent son back to the minivan, my maniacal voice demanded in a rising crescendo:

“Who do you think you are? Who do YOU think You ARE? WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE??”

I am sure my laid-back, nice neighborhood mom reputation was shot to hell after that incident. But at the end of the day, it didn’t matter as much as my son understanding that bratty behavior will always be called out. No matter where we are. No matter who is watching.

And that is why Katie Holmes is my hero this week. She did not simply have a handful of moms judging her. She had the whole world. And she put her parenting first.

You go, girl.

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