I loved the 1989 movie Parenthood. I would categorize it as a movie that I loved when it came out (I was nine) and love even more now that I’m a parent – especially since I get the jokes (which, side note, OMG – why was I allowed to watch this movie when I was 9??). In the theme of the movie, here are updates on the recent happenings in the K Family… in no particular order.
Justin(3 year old son): Who’s that?
Gil (Dad): It’s my kid brother, Larry, your uncle. Don’t give him any money.
Justin: I won’t.
My youngest sister Sarah turned 21 on September 27. I remember when she was born calculating how old I would be when she hit important milestones in her life. I figured out that I would be 32 when she was 21. I remember thinking two things, first: “WOW… I’ll be old!” and second: “I won’t be relevant any more! How could I be 32 and cool?”
Oh, dear, sweet, young Emily. You are as relevant and as cool at 32 as you were at 21. That’s not saying much, but it’s OK. Have a cocktail, toast your sister and color your roots. I mean seriously, is that fairy dust or sparkly grays?
[Gil has been complaining about his complicated life; Grandma wanders into the room]
Grandma: You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster.
Grandma: Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride!
Gil: What a great story. (sarcasm)
Grandma: I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn’t like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.
… A few moments later…
Karen: I happen to LIKE the roller coaster, okay? As far as I’m concerned, your grandmother is brilliant.
Gil: Yeah if she’s so brilliant why is she sitting in our NEIGHBOR’S CAR?
We live on a roller coaster. Frank is home, Frank is gone. Some of the hills and loops are familiar – kids to sitter, kids to doctor, kids home, go to work, leave lunch on the counter at home. Some of the twists are new – new projects, opportunities, moving homes, and so on.
I love our roller coaster. I love that there is an element of juggling involved in our lives and I love when everything goes smoothly.
Our roller coaster makes me appreciate quiet Saturday nights like this one, where I can spend some time writing.
I used to think I was a merry-go-round kinda girl at my core. Until there was Frank; Frank makes the ride worth it and taught me how to love the roller coaster. After ten years of marriage on September 19, I’d pick the roller coaster every time. T M, A.
Frank (Dad): You know, when you were two years old, we thought you had polio. Did you know that?
Gil (Son): Yeah, Mom said… something about it a couple of years ago.
Frank: Yeah, well, for a week we didn’t know. I hated you for that.
[Gil looks surprised and hurt]
Frank: I did. I hated having to care, having to go through the pain, the hurt, the suffering. It’s not for me.
One of the hardest parts of parenting is not what you have to do for your children – it’s learning to accept what you can’t do for your children. We do our best to set a good framework, provide rules and boundaries – but every now and then something crops up and they are the only ones who can handle it.
We are rapidly hitting these moments – potty training, going to play school (Pre-pre-school, essentially), and generally redirecting them when they are misbehaving. Parenting is an art and a science and a test in parental patience, will-power and self-discipline.
But it is so worth it. The girls make jokes now – with each other and with us. The play together so nicely much of the time and I am surprised by the few times they need a parent to step in and break up a disagreement.
Ellie is a gentle soul with alpha baby tendencies. She does not like stern reprimands and apologizes almost to the point of fault. She will certainly stand up to her sister and has mastered the screeching scream as a method to scare Carrigan away from a beloved stuffed animal or toy. I wasn’t feeling well the other day and Ellie was persistent in her questioning, “Mom, are you OK? Do you need medicine? Do you need to see the doc-tor?” She asked these questions with her curly red head cocked to one side and her eyebrows raised in serious concern.
Carrie is hilarious and gregarious. We were getting ice cream – her favorite treat – and she walked into the ice cream store like she owned it. She said hello to everyone, investigated the toppings and ice cream selections, requesting sprinkles like an old pro. And that’s the way she is – she walks into a room and says, “Hello friends! How’s it going?” with a big, confident smile on her face. She has started striking poses with one hand on her hip – which is incredibly funny! She has a sensitive side that is tough to navigate; she will throw up a wall if she wants to ignore your request and is genuinely sorry when she’s done wrong.
Frank: Gil, you have a good memory. Uh, was it yours or Helen’s or Susan’s wedding I got drunk at?
Gil: It was all three, Dad. Congratulations.
Frank: Well, which one did I punch the band leader?
Gil: That was mine. We have photos. I’m having them blown up for the commitment hearings.
And in conclusion…
I am constantly re-learning the meaning of family. It’s a lesson that evolves and morphs and changes, but the result is always the same for me: family is both the people I was born stuck with and the people I choose to be stuck with. Family is always worth the time and the fight and the energy.