Thursday, October 25, 2012

We Are So Not Boring (and other lessons from old TV shows)

I've told you before I can benchmark my life by what was happening in TV-land and pop culture.   I can tell you who was president (Reagan), what boy I liked (major crush on Doug, the new kid) and which house we lived in (the greenish condo, we moved quite a bit) all because of an episode of Different Strokes that aired in 1985.  You know the one where the first lady visits Arnold's classroom to talk about the war on drugs?  I have a million more episodic memories like that---a very undervalued gift.  Right or wrong, it is what it is. 

Last weekend, Lucy and I watched Little House on the Prairie together.  She had never seen it and has refused to read the books (which breaks my heart).  

But she was intrigued by this episode, which I knew like the back of my hand of course.  It was the episode where Mary and Ma have a disagreement, a total communication breakdown.  Mary accidentally sets fire to the barn, by staying up late reading and knocking over a lantern, and Ma is pissed.  She screams at Mary and punishes her by not letting Mary take a big, important "examination" at the schoolhouse.  Lucy watched thinking the same thing I was, "what the f&#k, Ma?"  Okay, I hope Lucy wasn't thinking with the F word, but you know what I mean.  

Ma came down hard on Mary for basically staying up late and studying.  That seems crazy!  Anyway, the whole story unfolds with Mary feeling incredibly guilty and lying to Ma and then she feels worse.  Meantime, Ma feels shitty for yelling at Mary and goes and visits good old Reverend Alden who helps her feel better about everything because that man can make anyone feel better.  I love Reverend Alden.   Then Mary and Ma make up at the end crying and apologizing. 

I teared up watching this episode as a mother to a daughter.  Since I always want life to look like a television show, why can't it look like Little House?  Lucy and I will have disagreements/communication breakdowns and more over the years.  I hope they are always over Lucy studying too much.  I hope they end with both of us crying and apologizing, and then me making pie and Tim playing his fiddle by the fireplace.

After the show was over, I turned to Lucy and saw that she was still confused.  She couldn't get over the fact that Mary got in trouble for studying and her punishment was getting out of a test.

"Isn't Mary Ingalls amazing?" I asked.  "Don't you want to be more like her?  So honest and full of integrity.  Wouldn't it be great to be like the Ingalls."  I was selling it a little too hard, I know.

"No way, she's boring," Lucy said. "I like us just the way we are, sooo not boring."
Lucy is no Mary Ingalls.  She wears shiny silver pants to lounge on a Saturday afternoon. She is so not boring.

She just might be right, but I still totally wouldn't mind having smiling, kind Reverend Alden around to pray for me.

Frustrated by the election?  Think it's impossible to peacefully, politely disagree with someone voting differently?  Fear not, I have used my episodic TV brain to conjure up an election compassion lesson from The Brady Bunch.  Here's a post I wrote for Patch called How To Love Your Neighbor In An Election Year.

Click here to read the whole post on the Patch.

Here's a moving clip from that very special Brady Bunch episode.

And just for some old school TV fun, check this out:
Tom Hanks on Jimmy Fallon performing slam poem about Full House. So good.

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