Sunday, February 22, 2009

Getting With the Program

Disclaimers:
The following is riddled with cliches.
The author UNDERSTANDS the cliches, the contradictions, and the erroneous thinking. Life is complicated.
The author, despite how it might seem, does NOT watch much TV, and realizes that television does not represent real family life. Or real anything.

***
I grew up, like a lot of people, watching The Brady Bunch, wishing I could move right in and have Alice bake me some cookies after school. But if I could have climbed in my television and walked away from my real life forever, I probably would have chosen Little House on the Prairie for my new home. Sure, you're thinking I'd have been dead in ten minutes with my "constitution" in the days before Urgent Care, but I'm not here to write about REALISM today. If Michael Landon had called me Half Pint, I thought I could have died happy.

Although I'm not on the spectrum myself, like my son I sometimes "scripted" from television growing up, because I hoped in vain that the happy endings would unfold if only I cried, "Oh! My nose!" With my alcoholic father, depressed mother, and aggressive brother, and with more than my share of dysfunction all around me, you can't blame a girl for trying. These were my elementary school years, and during that time my father fled the country with the Feds on his tail. I imagined that if I could just re-cast my life, things would work out so much better.

My teen years found me parked in front of Roseanne. I shared the angst. Darlene felt like a kindred soul. The ubiquitous hostility at the Connors house felt familiar to me, and I felt we - the Connors and I - had a shared knowledge that the Bradys were full of crap. Still, I liked how you could tell that the parents really loved each other, and that they loved their kids, and so I could laugh, cry, and aspire to meeting a Dan one day if not Pa Ingalls. Up until Roseanne jumped the shark with the whole lottery-winning-it's-all-a-dream fiasco, I felt like Roseanne looked like a reality tv show, and I would have gladly cast myself as the lone Jewish Connor if they would have had me.

Okay, so fast forward to my adulthood, and I meet my husband. Whoa, hold the phone! Better than TV! This guy? He could be Father Knows Best or something. And I told him I'd marry him if we could make a family together, because I just KNEW with his gentleness and my insightfulness.... yeah, right, I know... are you cracking up?

Ta-Da. Fire me as casting agent, I just realized that maybe the problem is me.

Sure, my kids aren't perfect, but it turns out that even if you give me EXACTLY what I asked for (amazing husband, interesting career, home, two kids, no alcoholism), I still live in a house with shouting, grumpiness, depression, and aggression. I am not Florence Henderson.

I find this realization of the obvious rather upsetting.

2 comments:

Mama Mara said...

As a fellow Jewess who married poorly and struggles to single-parent kids on the spectrum, I too wrestle with guilt over my role in creating such a mess.

Meh. I may not be Carol Brady, but my life (and yours too) would totally rock if it were a sitcom. Viewers would love us in all our dysfunctional glory!

Also, I think Carol Brady was probably hiding a whole mess of crap behind her wholesome smile and plaid miniskirts. I think she was on megadoses of Quaaludes, had a raunchy affair with Alice's lesbian cousin Sgt. Emma, and was the biological mother of "cousin" Oliver, her love-child with Sam the butcher.

ghkcole said...

Mama mara, please can you visit me next? I'm slightly farther than jw, but I will make kugel ....