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The Hard One: Corey Duffel’s Mom on her favorite F-word, the Kindergarten Incident and More

(2 min read)

Corey Duffel was stuck. Sideways. A 9 lb. ball of kinetic energy from the minute the obstetrician crow-barred him out of the womb, Duffman was never inclined to make things easy on his mom.


Bookended by two “easy” brothers, Corey was The Hard One. This Mother’s Day we got some details from natural rabble-rouser Sharon Duffel-- on the essence of being Corey’s Mom.


Devium: Are you and Corey more alike, or more different?


Oh, more alike. He comes by it all honestly. 


I’m so unfiltered. And a potty mouth for sure. Steve (Corey’s Dad) usually takes over when behaving is necessary-- like calling PG&E to talk about our last crazy energy bill. Fuck has become my favorite word. I love that I can use it in so many different situations. Put an “-ed” after it. Or an “-ing.” It’s useful.


And on the fashion side, in the 70s I was always pushing the limits on what I’d wear. At 15 I won a mini skirt contest at the State Fair for having the shortest skirt and the best legs. I really thought I’d become a fashion designer someday, and grew up creating and sewing my own clothes. I used my sewing skills to make my boys custom Halloween costumes when they were small-- and later to re-cut and sew Corey’s pants and shirts to give him the tight punk look he so loved.


Devium: So there’s a pretty strong DNA thing going on? 


For sure. When Corey was small and went to church with me, he could be the nicest, most polite little boy--all sweetness and blond bowl cut. But at home, a five-year-old calling his parents a dick-weed didn’t work for us. So Corey had an intimate relationship with soap--in his mouth. Bar soap. Liquid soap. Powdered soap.  His father administered that punishment. Corey was very different from his older brother Stephen, who was the world’s easiest kid. And, as a matter of fact, so was his younger brother Kevin.


Devium: Sounds like Corey was the outlier.


Corey was always my pain-in-the-butt child. He didn’t sleep through the night, not once, until he was well past three. Before he was four he had his first skull fracture, bombing his brother’s He-Man bike down a hill-- and his head on a concrete picnic table.


And in school, Corey was never what you’d call a typical learner. He sees and processes things in a totally different way than most. From an early age his teachers wanted him on Ritalin and that was definitely a no for me. I didn’t want him to just sit there -- I wanted him to be a little boy! And we had a great pediatrician who felt the same way. Corey definitely writes and follows his own script.


How else was Corey different growing up?


Corey always saw himself as different. That was pretty clear when his kindergarten teacher asked the kids to draw a self portrait for back-to-school night. Corey drew a picture of himself with a big scar slashed across his face-- complete with stitches and blood dripping. Yeah. The school psychologist was definitely called in.


When he was told to bring a book to third grade for silent reading, he brought a graphic novel, his favorite reading format. Beavis and Butthead. Seriously, what’s so inappropriate about that? It was silent reading! Principal Sheckler and I were never in agreement about that one….


Corey played a half a dozen different sports when he was young, but once he got his first skateboard at 10, he and the board were never apart. So while the swim coach wanted him to be in the pool,Corey would be skateboarding around the pool.


For as wild as Corey is, though, he’s not into drinking or drugs.  What’s the story?


For Corey, this whole edgy thing is totally natural. He’s never been drunk. He’s never done drugs. And during one of his many surgeries early on, we discovered he was allergic to morphine. So every time he breaks himself he has to put himself back together without pain meds. 


Speaking of surgeries and injuries, do you worry about that? 


Yes and no. Being a nurse, I knew when we needed to make an emergency room run, and when to just bandage him up myself. And I trust the doctors he worked with. He’s always healed pretty well, but as a mom I worry about how he’s really feeling, and what this or that injury will mean for him later on. The one thing I’ve always known is that I can’t tell him not to skate. Well I could. It just wouldn’t work.


Post Script from Corey: Three of my greatest gifts from Mom…. A skateboard. A record player. Life. The support, the love, the screams, the tears. Moms rule! My mom does for sure. Call your Mom on Mother’s Day!

Any favorite memories of pissing your mom off? Let us know in the comments.

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