Yet another bad week for America.
Just when I thought it was safe to turn on the news, yet another unspeakable tragedy has occurred.
When I was growing up the news was always on.
The Today Show was on in the morning. Even if we weren’t watching, Bryant Gumbel and Jane Pauly’s voices served as background noise for most mornings of my childhood.
At night, the background noise was provided by the nightly news with Tom Brokaw or Dan Rather. There voices would drone on while my mother made dinner every night and we played or did our homework.
That would never happen in this house.
I actually turn on the news in the morning to get a weather report (lord knows we need that around here) and quickly turn the channel the minute Matt Lauer shows his face.
Once actual news starts I immediately turn to something that’s good for children, like Spongebob Squarepants.
I just don’t want them to find out about how horrible the world is before it’s necessary. Why should they have to worry that they might be murdered at school or at the movie theater?
So, I shelter them….maybe sometimes too much.
The very first time I knew that my children were very sheltered was when they watched the movie “Annie.” I thought they would enjoy it, because let’s face it, what’s more fun that belting out “The sun will come out tomorrow?”
Who hasn’t pretended to be an overworked orphan singing “Hard Knock Life?” What children wouldn’t love this cinematic production?
We had to keep pausing it for their panic-stricken interrogations.
“But Mom where are her parents?”
“Um.. I’m not sure.”
“Well, are they going to come get Annie and take her home?”
“But…are they dead???” the two boys asked with pale-faced horror.
“Umm…I think maybe….”
And so on and so on….they couldn’t even enjoy the movie because they were so distraught that Annie’s parents had died.
I guess I hadn’t considered that there has been such a shift in children’s movies that they would find this alarming. Today’s movies and shows for kids depict life as pretty safe and fun. Nothing terrible ever happens.
That wasn’t the case in the 80’s.
When I was growing up Bambi’s mother got shot with a gun right in front of her, Cinderella’s mother died and left her to be raised by a wicked stepmother, Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz had no parents and had to live with her old aunt and uncle and even the Sound of Music children’s mother was dead.
I am sure nobody ever said, “We shouldn’t let the kids watch this movie because they will be upset.”
Growing up I really thought at any given moment my parents could perish and I would be an orphan. That was real life.
Even as I got older the trend continued.
The Brady boys on the Brady Bunch had no mother.
Arnold and Willis’ mom in Diff’rent Strokes passed away when they were young and left them with some old white guy.
The kids in Gimme a Break had to be raised by their housekeeper when their mom kicked the bucket.
Samantha Micelli’s mother from Who’s the Boss…dead.
Webster’s real parents…dead.
We didn’t even care that all mothers in the television universe were dead!
I was too busy being jealous of how much fun it would be to live with Uncle Jesse to worry about the fact that the girls’ mother in Full House was dead as a doornail.
Another lucky girl was Nicole from My Two Dads, whose mother croaked and left her with 2 really cool dads!!
And the coolest and luckiest girl on the planet was none other than Punky Brewster. Please read the following description from IMDB of my favorite show when I was 7 years old.
Punky Brewster is a show about a girl named Penelope “Punky” Brewster. She is abandoned with her dog, Brandon, in a supermarket by her mother. She doesn’t want to stay in an orphanage, and finally befriends Henry Warnimont who adopts her.
WHAT THE FUCK???
If my kids ever caught wind of this show, they would never go to Trader Joe’s with me again!
Blossom’s mother didn’t even have the decency to die, she just flat out left Blossom and her brothers in the dust and moved to Paris.
We thought we were safe with a show that was actually called “Valerie’s Family,” but no sorry….she died too.
Interestingly enough, I hadn’t realized that I spent my entire childhood watching motherless children navigate the world, until right now.
It’s making me think my kids should toughen up and watch the news.
But then last week I accidentally told them about something in the news and it didn’t go well. When they started to step into a sink-hole in my neighbor’s yard on the way to the bus stop I freaked out.
“Don’t do that!” I yelled frantically.
“Why?” they asked with their feet raised about to jump in.
Wanting to really be effective in my explanation I said, “It could open up and swallow you up and you could die!”
“How do you know?” Michael asked fearfully.
Against my better judgement, (and we were on our way to the bus stop - so you know that’s not when I am at my best) I said:
“Well a man in Florida was sleeping and a sinkhole under his bed opened up and swallowed him and his house and he died.”
They stared back at me wide-eyed and started peering down into the hole.
There have been nights that they say they can’t sleep because they are afraid of sinkholes.
Before Disney, they cried and said they didn’t want to go because they could die in Florida.
And the best was when Sam decided he was going to participate in the “Tell” part of Show and Tell and started to “tell” his kindergarten class about the man in Florida.
What proves to me that I am right to shelter my kids is that the kindergarten teacher realized what Sam was about to say and quickly whisked him away and changed the subject before 20 children could
lose sleep from enjoy his story.
THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS GOING OUT TO ALL OF THE VICTIMS OF THE BOSTON MARATHON TRAGEDY….HERE’S HOPING FOR A “BREAKING NEWS”-FREE WEEK!!! PLEASE SHARE THIS POST ON FACEBOOK IF YOU REMEMBER THESE SHOWS!!!
XO, LADY GOO GOO GAGA