woman crying cartoon

As a small child with an overactive mind, I would sometimes lie awake and imagine otherwise fit and healthy family members in various stages of illness or death. It wasn’t particularly intentional, odd perhaps, but I’ve just put it down to needing a good cry and it being a better alternative to putting Vicks or a Jalapeno in my eye.

Looking back, the level of detail I explored in order to squeeze out a few tears is quite alarming; I could never have been a child actor. Crying on cue? Sorry, I’ll be a while. I have to come up with an elaborate story involving a sick parent, the smell of pine and their Bob Dylan record collection.

I find myself questioning if other family members have ever used me to conjure tears. Did I have a terminal illness? What are they coveting in my cupboard? Did they put in a good enough performance? I hope there was decent weeping.

I learned to cry properly following a broken heart but it turns out that had nothing on sick kids. These days I can cry on cue and all I had to do was live a fuller life. Thanks to children I can blubber when I least expect it; prep orientation (you’re growing up too fast tears), shopping centre car parks (you’re growing up too slow tears) and anything that involves a sick child that is not even necessarily related to me.

Christmas is a notable trigger. My eldest was born at the end of November and Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas became his designated lullaby. I can no longer sing it without getting emotional. The same goes for Edelweiss, Close To You and Belinda Carlisle’s Summer Rain. If I say the following movie line Champ? Champ, wake up! Wake up! instant lump in my throat.

According to various acting tips, music and ‘backdoor’ memories are commonly used to evoke tears. Maybe it’s time I rethought an acting career?

Can you cry on cue?

photo credit: malchico brujerizmo via photopin cc


  1. Liza says

    Car crash, your children (sorry Nick, you both die), Oscar winning performance – copious amounts of weeping ;)

    I don’t think it’s necessarily children that make you more prone to weeping – I think it’s an age thing. The older I get, the worse I am. I embarrassingly started welling up to a colleague last week relaying a section of Hughesy and Kate’s final broadcast – and I haven’t listened to them in years!

  2. says

    Dance concert – and they weren’t my kids dancing. I was so proud of the kids dancing so well and I don’t even know any of them. AND it was only rehearsal.

    Pre kids, nothing got me to weep. I am making up for lost time.

  3. Melissa Savage says

    I used to think about terrible things happening to my family, but it wasn’t to make myself cry, it was because I liked the drama and storytelling involved. I am so much more disturbed than you.

    I cry a lot (although no babies) but I can’t cry on cue. When I had to do it on stage, I could get the emotions but not the actual tears.

    • says

      I read something on an acting website that said “Don’t worry if you can’t cry, it’s more important if the audience does” – I quite liked that.

  4. says

    I was such a good crier – too good, my mother would tell you. I lost the art sometime in my thirties and I’m no good at it anymore. A good weepy film can still get me going. And Vicks in my eyes… x

  5. says

    I am the biggest cry baby you are ever likely to meet. Ads, movies, songs, thoughts, conversations…my husband has had to get used to me crying out of thin air. But he’s learned to know when it’s the ‘holy shit, I need to give her a hug’ type of tears…like today. I think the year has caught up with me. Big time. Cue: tears.

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