After weeks of hiatus, Parenthood was back last night. Tonight’s theme was being the parent — Crosby learned to tell his son no, Julia has a conversation about death with her daughter, Adam has to make a judgment call about a young man is daughter is dating, and Sarah has to confront her ex-husband’s substance abuse.
All of these issues require parents to be, well, parents. While I lament, like Crosby and Julia over early childhood issues, I know that the issues will only get bigger. As a parent, you have to mean what you say and say what you mean. In Crosby’s defining moment, he tells 5 year old Jabbar that they aren’t going to the zoo because he hasn’t cleaned his room. When Jabbar starts to argue, Crosby, for the first time in his stint at fatherhood, shuts him down. Jabbar throws a fit, and Crosby doesn’t cave. I wanted to give the man a gold star, because I’ve laid down that ultimatum, and I’ve watched squirmy bodies sit in the time out chair more times than I can count.
When Julia’s daughter is convinced a dead bird is going to wake up, she has to have a conversation with her daughter about death. I’ve done this too — it’s a little uncomfortable, but thankfully, it’s typically so abstract, it gets easier. A dead bird or fish is great introduction to death for children, and it gives them a point of reference when a loved one does die at some point in their lives.
These two issues are enough to make a parent stress a little, and complain a little. They’re heavy enough that you feel a little proud when you’ve conquered the topic. When your child starts listening better because they believe in a stated consequence, you breath a sigh of relief. When your daughter seems to have a basic concept of death, and can relate it back to you, you feel like you’ve made a short stride.
Then you begin to realize that all of those issues? The things you stress over so much with a kindergartener? Those things? Those things are nothing. Those things are a drop in the bucket.
Because on the horizon are the teen years.
And when your daughter brings home a young man who is a fine upstanding young man, a young man with goals, and that young man happens to have his own apartment and a 6 month sobriety chip, you suddenly wish for the dead bird issue.
When your son invites his friends over to drink Grandpa’s beer, and Grandpa covers for him, you’d welcome a temper tantrum over an unclean room.
Adam has to make a judgment call about Hattie’s beau (oh the young love!), and while he likes the young man as a person, he doesn’t like him as a suitor for his daughter. Adam is right, but oh how my heart aches for Hattie. Even Adam’s heart aches for Hattie, but he’s being a parent.
Sarah has to confront her own father (Zeek) about sharing alcohol with her son, not because she’s a tea-totaller, but because her ex is an addict. She fears her son could have inherited those tendencies. She is beginning to realize that it’s time to be honest about her ex’s substance abuse, something she’s protected her children from for as long as they’ve been alive. She’s being a parent.
As much as my young ones can drive me up a tree, I have a funny feeling that in ten years, I’ll be wishing for the days where “the worst day ever” means we didn’t get to go to the library because my daughter chose not to get dressed by herself.
When have you had a defining moment as a Parent, with a capital P?