It seems that a mother’s ability to make her son squirm is undimmed by the passage of time as the mom of opposing pundits Brad and Dallas Woodhouse recently demonstrated by calling in live to C-SPAN.
“Oh God it's Mom,” moans Dallas as his head drops into his hands as he hears his mother’s angry Southern twang came over the phone line during a segment of C-SPAN's Washington Journal.
She called in to the show to scold her sons for their statements about their family’s inability to have a civil holiday gathering.
His look of total and immediate surrender is one I have seen on the faces of each of my four sons in various situations when I caught them in the act of saying or doing something they shouldn’t.
Mrs. Woodhouse had plenty to say since, apparently, the brothers had given a rather grim portrayal of their family’s annual holiday interactions which include endless, heated, political debate between the opposing brothers.
Brad is a Democrat and Dallas is Republican. Brad is president of the national liberal group Americans United for Change, while his younger brother, Dallas, is president of North Carolina conservative group Carolina Rising.
Many parents will recognize the scene that played-out on C-Span as one that rings a holiday bell in many ways. Siblings all bottled-up in one house who have not had much interaction during the rest of the year may indeed find the urge to squabble irresistible.
As a parent with two sons in college, I am grateful to say I witness more happy reunions at the holidays than what seems to happen at the Woodhouse home. At this point in their lives, they would rather come together and play a video game battle than name call.
However, the angst described by the Woodhouse brothers seemed closer to a scene from the animated 1974 Christmas film “The Year Without a Santa Claus” featuring characters Snow Miser and Heat Miser in a very similar split-screen session to that of the Woodhouse brothers.
In the film, when the battling brothers refuse to put their personal politics aside and play nice to help Mrs. Claus, she heads to Mother Nature for backup.
Heat Miser immediately cracks at the mere threat as he whines to his brother, “See what you did? She’s going to tell Mother!”
So it went on C-SPAN as the two brothers couldn’t decide whether to laugh or hide under a desk.
Mrs. Woodhouse said, "I disagree that all families are like ours. I don't know many families that are fighting on Thanksgiving. I was very glad that this Thanksgiving was a year that you two were supposed to go to your in-laws. And I'm hoping you'll have some of this out of your system when you come here for Christmas.”
For emphases, as her sons grimaced, Mom added, "I would really like a peaceful Christmas, and I love you both."
Meanwhile, host Steven Scully appeared to barely contain his glee as he pointed out that Mom calling in was not planned.
At the end of their talking to, the brothers both found their decorum and thanked their mom, promising to see her for Christmas. I noticed that while they looked relieved to be released from the very public hot seat, neither promised to behave during the holiday.
My guess is that the result of being naughty at the Woodhouse holiday this year will be more tough public love by a mom who isn’t done parenting by a long shot.