Thanks to the TV show Mythbusters, I spent my morning trying to explain to my tweens about unions, the Mafia and where the heck Jimmy Hoffa is. While it’s not exactly the kind of breakfast table conversation I would have chosen, it is what the G in PG is all about. If only I was better at it.
Last night, on a re-run of Mythbusters, the show that uses science to confirm or debunk urban myths, the hosts set out to find out if it’s true whether former Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa is really buried in Giants Stadium. (For the record: myth busted.)
I guess it took all night for the story to sink in for my kids, because they brought it up at breakfast this morning.
“Who’s Jimmy Hoffa again?” my third grader asked. First, I explained what a union is. Thanks to the recent writers’ strike, that part was easy, though I had to point out why I, a non-Hollywood writer, wasn’t one of the strikers.
“Am I gonna hold a picket sign outside my home office and shout at myself?” I asked sarcastically. My fourth grader offered to join me.
“Okay, what’s the Mafia?” my younger son asked. Oh boy. I pretty much said it’s like a gang for grown-ups, and explained how the mob might work if, say, he opened a store and they wanted a cut of the profits.”
Oh, but there’s no Mafia around here,” he said, reassuring himself. “Here” is northern New Jersey. You know, Tony Soprano country. I tried not to laugh, and then explained why it was even plausible that Hoffa was buried in the Meadowlands – just 20 miles from us – in the first place.
“But I could just tell the police if the Mafia was after me,” he said. Soon, I was gingerly explaining how the Mafia might keep him from telling the authorities. I started out describing how the mob uses its, er, “influence” to “persuade” people to do what they say. Eventually, though, I ended up sounding like Vito Corleone talking shop on The Godfather. I even used words like “shake-down” and “bump off.”
Dora, The Explorer was so much easier to explain. Even in Spanish.
I noticed that my third grader was taking notes. He had written down “Hoffa,” “Mafia” and “The Sopranos.”
Great. Now I’m going to be the mom who provided all the kids on the school bus with the tutorial entitled, “The Mafia and You: An Insider’s Guide for Residents of New Jersey.”
Flustered, I tried to turn it into a teachable moment. “They’re not sure where Jimmy Hoffa really is,” I said, “but now you know why people shouldn’t be bullies.” My son scribbled something down while I wondered, Did I just say the Mafia kills bullies?
Luckily, the boys lost interest in my dissertation on organized crime and wandered off. As for whether I provided my children with quality parental guidance, it’s plausible, though more likely, I’m pretty much busted.
Originally ran on GoodHousekeeping.com.