Of course, I would be the perfect parent. Rule driven, knowing when to say yes and when to say no, with a Martha Stewart house, and meatloaf on the table every Friday. Something like that.
My baby will be ten years old in less than two weeks, and he has taught me that parenthood is a journey full of lessons. Things never go as expected, and the learning curve is wide.
Last night, my very favorite television show, Parenthood, returned to the line up. It's really the only show I watch on a regular basis. That, and reruns of Seinfeld with W. If you are not watching this show, you must. I am being completely serious. It's not just entertainment, but it reminds us of our jobs as parents, and supports us when things get tough.
The episode that just ran touched on many topics. Kids drinking underage, a young man who emancipated himself and is an alcoholic in recovery, a drinking alcoholic and drug addict father. Then there was the death of a bird that presented the concept of how we teach our children about death, and what our beliefs are on the afterlife (or lack thereof); and most poignant, at least for me, is how we become our kids parents, instead of being their friends.
Joel and Julia talk to their daughter about death. (Parenthood)
Crosby, played by Dax Shepard, didn't find out he was a father until his son, Jabbar, was five years old. He'd gotten a dancer, with whom he'd had an affair, pregnant, and she chose not to tell him until that point. Jumping in was tough for Crosby, who had to accept that he was a father, learn about responsibility, and figure out how to be a dad. It was a process for him, and had been slowly progressing. Now living with Jabbar and Jabbar's mom, Jasmine, who is now his fiance (and that came about in a really honest way), he is having a hard time with discipline. At one point, she is telling their son, Jabbar, to clean his room, and the son, unsure, looks to Crosby for direction, who says something to him like, "Your mom wants you to clean your room." After Jabbar leaves the room, Jasmine talks privately to Crosby and reminds him that they are a team, and that both need to be disciplinarians, and be on the same page. Oh, and that his job is to be a parent, not a friend. A good lesson for us all.
|Crosby talks to Jabbar about responsibility. (Parenthood)|
We have a few rules in our house, and have added two new ones. The newest two: always clean up after yourself; and be respectful. The reminder is constant, and comes before a slip up may occur. My son, for example, sits down to do his homework. Homework time usually causes some degree of friction. I say, Remember, we must be respectful and kind. If I see that he is starting to get crabby, I say, Speak with respect. So far, it's worked. It's harder in big groups where the follow up is more uncomfortable to enforce (uncomfortable for others to witness, more than anything). Cleaning up has been easy. He's had a tough time with this for a long time, so I finally said, You must clean up after yourself, and that's the bottom line. No threats of punishment, just that fact. I explained that living in a home with others requires teamwork. That was enough.
Parenthood is on NBC, Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. EST