Monday, November 7, 2011

"Parenthood" 1989


I was out to dinner with the family tonight.  We went to a place that offers a buffet of pizza and chicken.  It was pretty busy and we sat between two families with young children.  They had very different parenting styles.

On one side was the reasonable mom.  She talked her children through the process of dinner.  As they stood in line she reminded them of how to behave.

"Remember, we have to keep our bodies calm.  We can't jump around or make lots of noise.  It is important to remain calm."

The other parents were a little more old school.  Their kid was meandering. 

"Come on.  What are you doing?  Get up here.  Do you want to get stolen?  Stay where I can see you?"

When I had my son I wanted to be the reasonable parent.   I remember going to see "Parenthood" in the theater when my son was a few months old.  Watching the movie I remember thinking how ridiculous the kids were in that movie.  All they needed was little discipline. 

Hah!  Looking back twenty-two years I see how naive I was.  I started out with Steve Martin's Gil's attitude.

Usher: You don't talk like a kid.
Gil: Yeah, well I'm not really a kid.
Usher: You're not a doc.
Gil: This is a memory of when I was a kid. I'm 35 now. I have kids of my own. You don't even really exist. You're an amalgam.
Usher: A what?
Gil: A combination of several ushers my dad left me with over the years. I combined them into one memory.
Usher: Why?
Gil: This was a great symbolic moment of my life. My father dumping me with you... it's why I swore things would be different with my kids. It's my dream. Strong, happy, confident kids.

The problem is kids come out the way they are going to be.  There is no forming or molding.  My son has always taken his time.   Heck, it took two hours of pushing to get him out!

Since then that two hours of pushing seems minor.  I am still pushing him.  And he still needs the push on occasion.  It is hard to stop.  It is just like the movie, I relate to Jason Robards a little more all the time.

Frank: There is no end, you never cross the goal line, spike the ball and do your touchdown dance, never... i'm 64 and larry is 27... and he's still my son, like kevin is your son... you think i want him to get hurt?... he's my son   It's like your Aunt Edna's a$$. It goes on forever and it's just as frightening.
The movie shows all the stages of parenthood.  You never stop being a parent or worrying about them.  My son got on a plane and went to Philadelphia for training for his job.  It was his first trip without us.  I was a wreck from the minute we dropped him at the airport. 

When he was in Philly, he decided to go downtown and try a real cheesesteak.  Now, downtown was about half an hour from where his hotel was by cab ride.  But he didn't  take a cab.  He took buses and trains and arrived downtown.  He called his father as he was trying out the cheesesteaks of Pat's and Gino's.  In the background there were police sirens. 

When my husband asked what was going on, he replied "Oh, something on the next block."

I fell apart when I heard about this.  I was ready to run to Philadelpia and save my son from the horrors of the City of Brotherly Love.  Never mind that he is over six feet tall and outweighs me, this was my baby out there on the mean streets.

He was super cool about his little adventure deciding that Pat's was the preferable cheesesteak.  Not me.  I was wound up until that text came letting me know he was back at the hotel.

Cause parenthood never ends, and it is just as frightening. 


  1. Love it! So true parenting sure doesn't stop with age. One of my favorite movies.

  2. This is one of my top ten favorite movies. I love everything about it, and can relate in some way to every single character (yes, even the obnoxious brother, Larry). Thanks for writing about it!