Dear Haters

folderofshame(I write a weekly column for the Kansas City Star newspaper and this is the column I wrote this week in response to the “you suck” emails I have received.)

People hate me. Okay, maybe hate is too strong of a word so let’s change that to some people have a fervent dislike of what I write. And you know what? That’s okay. I believe if you dish it out you have to be able to take it. And let’s be real here, sometimes I don’t just dish it out. It’s more like I use a bulldozer.

Subtlety has never been my strong suit and I don’t see that as a character flaw. I’m the youngest of four children. Trust me, subtlety would have gotten me nowhere in my boisterous family. To be subtle pretty much would have equaled being ignored. And have you ever known a baby in the family that likes getting zero attention? I didn’t think so.

In fact, this may seem perverse, but I welcome (on most days) emails from readers telling me how much I suck. It means, hopefully, I’ve made people think and I don’t believe that’s ever a bad thing. That said, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that every Wednesday when my column comes out I approach my email with a little bit of apprehension.

Some weeks my inbox stays friendly other times it’s chock-full of cascading comments about what an idiot I am. I know I’m in trouble when the email is over one paragraph.

In my experience if someone wants to write you a “hey, I loved your column” they’re not going to type more than a couple of sentences. That’s why the dual paragraph is a sign of doom and damnation. Apparently, not liking something or someone makes people very prolific. The puzzling thing is I’m always surprised by what’s going to tick people off. Usually it’s something I wrote that I thought was fairly innocuous.

In the one year I’ve been writing this column the angriest emails I received were about school community service hours (click here for that column). Okay, to be fair I did mention that I thought some parents might be overstating, just a tad, how many “hours” their children volunteered.

For example, how does picking up the neighbor’s newspaper and placing it on a doorstep equal “volunteering”? Isn’t that just basic manners?

My crucial mistake in writing that column was asking people to please NOT send me emails sharing how wonderful their children are and how many community service hours they had logged.

Oh my, what was I thinking? Because that’s exactly what I got.

Email after email (some in all caps) from angry parents lambasting me for daring to suggest that the whole keeping a log of being a decent human being is somehow wrong.

Worse, oh so much worse, was that half of these parents then proceeded to list their children’s volunteer accomplishments. At least three of the emails had attachments. Parents had scanned their kid’s community service logs!

I’d like to take this moment and give a shout out to the Prairie Star Elementary School student who was getting community service for walking the family dog. I was surprised I didn’t see licking cookie dough off the KitchenAid mixer beater listed as a “volunteer” line item.

Yeah, that’s right I read every last one of them. And congratulations you helped me make my point.

The community service log outrage proves my theory that if I really want to get folks fired up all I need to write about is anything pertaining to school and/or parenting. The one exception is when I wrote about paying for things with change. Okay, just wow on the number of people who hate quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies. I stand by my statement that it is still legal tender.

As for my school/parenting columns they usually trigger emails from mothers who began their correspondence extolling the virtues of not only their children, but also their parenting prowess. The emails then proceed to point out either my failure at all the of above or a series of tips on how I can improve myself usually in the form of suggesting I get more involved in my children’s lives. (Because yes, you can gauge a person’s long-term parental involvement based on an 800-world column.)

More than a few have hinted that I’m a “bad mother” and some emailers have actually stated, “they feel sorry for my children.”

As for the feeling sorry for my children statements. All I can say is yes, sometimes I also feel sorry for my children. Like right now, I feel sorry for my daughter because she’s about to get the mother of all groundings for “living like an animal.” (Translation her room is a nightmare.)

In terms of me being a bad mother. Yeah, for sure, some days I’m bad at mothering. But, a bad mother, not so much. And what is it about the bad mother name calling? Why is that the go to for attempting to get women to feel bad about themselves? It’s the junior high equivalent of telling a girl she’s fat and just as lame.

So don’t worry about hurting my feelings. Go ahead and keep sending those emails. I can take it. I look at it this way – it all just gives me something else to write about.

*Attcover_1.3-2ention Snarky Friends, I have a brand new book out. It’s the second in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! 🙂

27 thoughts on “Dear Haters

  1. Hingham Foodie says:

    Dude, you rock. Always have. Your advice columns are the BEST. You really hit the nail on the head, every time. Your advice is well thought out, and very clever. If I ever need someone SERIOUSLY put in their place, I am going to call you. Have a wonderful weekend. I admire your clever brain! Cindy

    Date: Thu, 26 Feb 2015 15:37:12 +0000 To:

  2. feathersanddimes says:

    I love your writings because you tell it like it is! I wrote a blog post on “mom goggles” once…I don’t think we’re doing our kids ANY favors in life by constantly thinking our kids are perfect. I love your mom honesty! Keep up the good work!!!

  3. Jackie Conkling says:

    Hi Snark,

    Would you be our guest and do a book signing at our parent volunteer breakfast this spring?

    We are a private school up in Gladstone, (Oakhill Day School). We are pretty laid back, who else in town has a trap shooting fundraiser event for their school.

    We could do a loaded Q&A. Carline-Science fair Projects-volunteering- gifted program etc.

    Have your people call my people, ( which would be me).

    Have a great day,

    Jackie Conkling


  4. AthenaC says:

    Well let me add to the positivity – you never fail to make me laugh. When I read what you write I finally feel like I’ve found the only other person who sees how bizarre suburban life can be sometimes. Thanks for writing and making my day!

  5. Karen Camarata says:

    Hi Sherry,

    Keep dishing it out with a shovel! In every column there is a kernel of truth and that is what gets people going because we can see a little of our foibles in your mirror….. And a lot of those of our neighbor!

    There was a former KC Star columnist who wrote about how scornful she was of Johnson County and it sounded like she really despised living here. I was glad for all of us when she moved on so she could be happier somewhere else. So please don’t cross that line into being a hater and remain a bemused and hilarious observer!

    Ps. Have you done a column yet on spring break….. And the shame of going nowhere for a week?

    Keep snarking, Karen Camarata


  6. Jessie Reyna says:

    People have nothing better to do unfortunately. I don’t think I could ever get so heated as to write to the author and tell them how much they suck at life. That’s just plain middle school online bullying. I’d use it as leverage to my own writing too – keep doing that, cause it’s working!

  7. KellieB says:

    In the short time that I have been introduced to you column, I don’t think I have disagreed with any of your posts. Keep up the good work!

  8. Janice Kimble says:

    Oh I just love you Snarky McSnarkmeister Snarkster. Can’t believe – no I’m shocked – that I’m living in a world where people are hating on Snarky. Love your column, love you. Keep on keeping it real with snark. I need you in my life and wish you were here in Houston. The Memorial-lites have me outnumbered and I could use a big ol’ dose of you at our PTA meetings. I’ve written a paragraph but it’s a paragraph of love. Love and no hate. Thanks for your column. Rock on Snarky!

  9. D. Nordstrom says:

    You don’t suck. At all. I, for one, am thankful that you’re exposing the epidemic of A Holes raising future A Holes in the suburbs, especially JoCo/Blue Valley. These parents are out of control and have no vision of what type of human being they’re developing for future failure (if they’ll allow them to). Some may consider articles like these “click bait” but they’re true and need attention, in my opinion.

    The ‘burbs need to be shaken up a bit and exposed for so much of the phony, self serving, pitiful lives some of these people lead. It doesn’t matter if you’re super wealthy, stay at home mom/dad or both working parents leveraged up to their eyeballs in debt…most are all trying to keep up with the Jones’s and have lost sight of things like volunteerism, building a better community and being neighborly. How can you love thy neighbor when you’re constantly competing and jealous of them?

    I like BV for the schools and high expectations it places on learning but the sports, clubs, PTA’s, cliques ran by parents, helicopter parenting and general douchebaggery of the area has me looking forward to my kids growing so I no longer have to associate with these empty, uninteresting, vapid sheep and can spend my time with genuine people with something more to offer society than spoiled children, a false sense of importance and an unhealthy infatuation with EVERY SINGLE DETAIL of their children’s lives.

    Not to be too generalizing but if you read this and are offended then you’re probably part of the problem. Get a life. Allow your kid to fail. Stop being their friend and start being their parent. They’ll love and RESPECT you for it later. If not, have fun with your grandchildren, I’m sure they’ll turn out just fine.

  10. A.PROMPTreply says:

    One of my favourite quotes is by Winston Churchill who said, “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” I think the same could be said for you! 🙂

  11. lconn22 says:

    Way to keep your Big Girl Voice, Sister.

    On another note, how is walking the dog “community service”? What community does that serve? The underprivileged Labrador retriever commnunity? Also, putting the neighbor’s paper on his doorstep doesn’t count, unless the paper was attached to a Volkswagen. If the kid lifted a Jetta, then he get props. Otherwise, it’s a nice thing to do, because we should always be nice to each other, and because I’m your mother and I told you to do it, damn it. (This last message is delivered more effectively with a slap upside the head.)

  12. Audrey says:

    Plain and simple girlfriend..YOU ROCK!!!!! Keep up the great work, I love every single blog and if you need to make a ‘night run’ there’s plenty of us who would love to have your back.

  13. CSpan says:

    ALL of this is SO GREAT! Vapid sheep and underprivileged Labrador retriever community…hysterical! Keep blogging Snarky, LOVE IT!

  14. Cynthia says:

    I love everything you write! My 16 year old daughter and I are always rushing to be the first one to read the new “Snarky”, so we can laugh about it together! My mother use to clip out your columns and mail them to me until I found you by email an FB. Would share a bottle of Skinnygirl with you anytime!!

  15. Jo says:

    I love your columns and your books I have two things though, A sense of humour plus a sense of reality. Some people can’t handle it when the truth is served up to them, Keep up the good snarkalicious work x

  16. tired parent says:

    Ha! Ha! My kid goes to Prairie Star and I’m not surprised about the kid getting community service credit for walking the family dog! I used to volunteer to help a teacher grade papers and I swear 80 percent of the work was done by parents. Snark on!

  17. txbethg says:

    As someone who avoids confrontation, I admire your fortitude in dealing with the wackos who write you angry emails. Maybe you could outsource that task to a kid in need of community service hours, though? Seems like a win-win.

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