“My father would tell me off, my mother would intervene, and there would be a huge argument about how I was…” (p. 19)
“My father would tell me off, my mother would intervene, and…”
What’s that, Elton? Your mother would intervene?
As in, your mother didn’t like to see you being victimized so she came to your defense?
If these arguments happened as often as you say, that’s an awful lot of hating your suffering and coming to your defense.
I daresay this is a bit of an eye-opener. You’d never guess, based on the fantasy musical that permanently altered the planet’s landscape, that your mother ever gave a shit about you!
It’s almost as though you took her kindness so totally for granted that it never stood out to you as being kindness!
In an interview with PopSugar, Bryce insisted that Sheila’s parenting was “very, very, very damaging” to Elton.
And what anyone looking at the available evidence can see is that…
No. No it wasn’t.
When you care as much about your kid’s wellbeing as Sheila cared about Elton’s, there’s only so damaging your behavior can be. A kid whose mother defends him constantly throughout his youth knows better than to doubt her love for him.
Were her temper and mood swings unpleasant? Of course—why wouldn’t they be? But it takes more than unpleasantness in and of itself to give a child an existential crisis. If Sheila had provoked a damaging amount of anxiety, there wouldn’t have been ups and downs throughout their relationship; there wouldn’t have even been a relationship after Elton’s eighteenth birthday.
Now, I’m sure there are a few of you out there thinking, “But what about THA POTTY TWAINING?! And THA CONSTIPATION WEMEDY?! WA-A-AH!”
For anyone who doesn’t know what I’m referring to, get ready to see sensationalism at its finest:
“She definitely had some deeply weird ideas about parenting. It was an era when you kept your kids in line by clobbering them…But some of Mum’s behavior would have been considered disturbing even by the standards of the time. I found out years later that when I was two, she’d toilet-trained me by hitting me with a wire brush until I bled if I didn’t use the potty. My nan…had gone berserk…Nan had gone berserk again when she saw my mother’s remedy for constipation. She laid me on the draining board in the kitchen and stuck carbolic soap up my arse. If she liked to scare people, she must have been overjoyed by me because I was fucking terrified of her.” (p. 13)
Classic Elton—ambushing his fans with perverse intimacy just to see how they react.
Well, this is what I have to say about it:
You don’t go in and out of being a sadist. Your maternal instinct doesn’t come and go with your moods. And cute little gay music icons are as capable of lying as anyone else.
Whether or not Sheila actually did these exact things, Elton is lying when he says that they would have been “disturbing” for the time.
Tough love has always been a known concept and it has never, by definition, been the same thing as wanton cruelty. If parents hit their kids in those days, parents who believed in tough love hit them more. It’s that simple.
Besides, there’s bleeding and then there’s bleeding. It’s a hairbrush, not a cheese grater. The spines of a brush are rounded at the tips. Even if it technically broke the skin, there wouldn’t be a flow. We’re not looking at a meaningful injury here.
And the constipation remedy? Yes, soap suppositories are uncomfortable, and can even get to be quite painful, and it doesn’t matter a god damn because it doesn’t mean anything. Soap suppositories were a big thing in the 40s and 50s and you didn’t have to be a Dahmer to give them to your kids. Google “soap sticks for constipation.” Oh, what the hell—I’ll just give you the links now and save you the trouble. (They’re at the end of this page.) It’s no more sadistic than putting hydrogen peroxide on your kids’ wounds or giving them kaopectate for diarrhea. Somehow these painful remedies get invented and mainstreamed and people take them in stride. That’s just the way it is. Deal with it.
As for putting him on the draining board: you realize she did that so that his poop would land in the sink, right? Y’all are just jealous you didn’t think of that with your own kids.
Still not convinced? Very well. You obviously haven’t seen Tantrums and Tiaras, so I invite you to do so now. Specifically, watch 7:15-10:43.
Then, after you’re done watching Sheila weep over her baby’s splitting fingertips, watch this clip:
What I’m saying is: Sheila was always this person. No matter how angry or bitter she got, she always thought of Elton as someone to cherish and protect, and his coldly calculated prose doesn’t change that. I know it, and you know it, and Elton knows it better than anybody.
So…croon over him if you must, but remember that it’s totally wasted on him. In fact, he’s laughing his head off.
Bryce interview link: