Is TV like life, or life like TV?

Do you follow the TV series Brothers and Sisters? We've followed for some time. Sometimes, the bickering and nonsense gets a bit...annoying and I just want to yell at them..."you're rich! You grew up rich. You've had every advantage. You have perfect teeth and perfect hair and you never wear the same thing twice. Pull up your big girl panties and act like grownups ya' bunch of babies." But, other times I can be brought to tears by what I see as normal loving behavior between people that obviously care about one another...well, their characters care about one another. I don't know anything about them in real life.

Anyway, you're wondering why I would bring up a non-vintage TV show on Way Back Wednesday. Well, they have a current plot line that is really hitting home for me. I mean, really hitting home.

The gay couple (married...just sayin'. Two guys are portrayed as married and society has not fallen. Eat that Glen Beck.) is looking at adopting a 9 year old girl. Our daughter was 9 when she came to live with us.
-The girl on TV has been caught stealing. Our girl got caught stealing, not from us, but caught.
-It's clear that the girl is trying to mess things up because she's afraid of being happy because happy never lasts. Our girl clearly tried to mess things up so we'd send her back to her Mom, like everyone else had, because happy never lasts.
-Michael and Scotty don't know how to handle this and question whether they are qualified to parent this child. We didn't know what to do and for a while we both thought of sending her back to her Mom, fortunately never at the same time.

The difference is that we didn't have Michael and Scotty's demeanor. We didn't have writers picking just the perfect words for us to say in a perfectly understanding tone of voice with wonderful and soothing music playing in the background. We didn't know that everything would work out one way or the other. We weren't living life out of sequence to meet shooting deadlines, so we didn't know the future. We were winging it.

And, we made mistakes. And, we stumbled and we failed and we tried again and we did things we try not to talk about anymore, even to one another.

And, we got better.

Last night, we were faced with a tough parenting situation. There was a lot of emotion on everyone's part. But, none of the emotions was inappropriately expressed. We said what we had to say. We pointed out the lessons that should have been learned by now. We pointed out how we've changed, so "I can't help it" an excuse clearly planted by a therapist some years ago, is not an excuse. We executed consequences; strong consequences for a 13 year old girl; that were appropriate to the offense. We talked. We said what we had to say. We moved on. We said "I love you" when we hugged goodnight.

And, when she got up this morning, I saw responsibility in her. She wasn't mad at us or plotting our demise or thinking how she could get around us. Okay, for the skeptics, maybe she was pretending. Or, as I prefer to call it, practicing. My theory is that if she practices enough, then it will become real, so either way, it was good.

I remember the day that I knew that shouting and intimidation weren't going to work. It's taken a lot of practice, but I think we've found something better. Something that IS going to work.

And, we didn't even need a script writer.

I hope they continue to develop this plot line. And, I hope they stay true to life. Gay, straight, green or purple, I believe that every family that takes in an older child goes through some version of this growing pain. It happens on top of all the other hormonal growing up. And, because crazily assembled families are becoming more common, people need to see what goes on in those families to know what they might be getting in to. Cuz I gotta say that we've had friends look at us like we're crazy and overreacting to everything, just because they didn't understand what our every day was like. People need to see it in the safe environment of the living room TV so they'll understand.

And, I'm happy to say that we've stepped up to the plate. Bring on your worst, kid. Eek!!!!! I did not just say that! I take it back. Do what you will, kid. We're becoming a stronger family every day. And, I trust that you like it enough that "what you will" won't be too bad.

Unless "what you will" involves purple hair dye. I gotta draw the hair line somewhere. (not what she did yesterday, but a question that keeps coming up.) Maybe in a couple years. Maybe.

Take care. Lane


lw said...

I haven't seen the show, but that plot line keeps me coming back to your blog despite how much more quilting you manage to get done than I can ever get to. You will succeed, because you both love your daughter and are willing to put in as much time as it takes to set her on the right path. And I love you for it.

Terri in BC said...

If purple hair helps her "rebel" in a safe way, I say go for it. My daughters had green hair at one point, but at least they asked permission and it wasn't permanent. Teens are 'fun' but there is light at the end of the tunnel and it sounds like you guys are doing a great job getting through it.

Auntie Em said...

Oh Lane, you always impress me so much with your insight. I truly admire the job youand
Rob are doing with Sydney.

Just a side note,you've heard the phrase "pick your battles", right? If there ever is a purple hair battle, I would let her win that one, so that you can win the tattoos and pierced body parts ones instead. Hair grows out, tattoos don't.

Becky said...

Parenting is tough.....on a GOOD day! All we can do is try our best and you two seem to be rolling pretty well with that one.

Yankee Valley Stitcher said...

Every famiy has it ups and downs and we all continue to learn together! The growing never stops! As for the purple hair....let her go for it, its only hair!! Happy Parenting ;)

Hazel said...

I must be the odd ball PURPLE hair I don't think so .Well ok maybe if it was an immediate wash out I may say ok to an afternoon of it .Your doing just find with parenting let your heart guide you as you have been ,your doing a terrific job .

Elizabeth said...

Ugh. Purple hair. I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but it happens. I say stick to your guns on that one. And good for you all for growing together as a family.

xo -El

Coloradolady said...

I watch every episode of that show, and I thought of your family Sunday night. Sounded so familiar. You guys do a wonderful job, and you are right, you did not have a script and writers making it all perfect. Hats off to you!

Remember...matters of fad, don't worry too much, but matters of principle, stand firm. I think I have told you that one before! You can live with a little purple hair!!

Bonnie K. Hunter said...

Never heard of the show, but it sounds good!! My kids are my natural kids, but there are times when I swear they were switched at birth with SOME ONE ELSES kids, you know? How ever they come to you, life is NOT scripted. I've got an almost-21-yr-old who has given up on GED school 3 times....wrecked his car on Tuesday while I was stranded in Nebraska, and has grown a beard (He wants to be ZZ top!) and was telling me he is thinking of dread-locks in his hair.

All of those things are temporary. They can be reversed.

What I loved was that he took time out of his day to pick up his road weary mom at the airport and go to the Chinese buffet with me and talk talk talk the whole time as if he enjoyed being in my company --- which means a lot! There were many years that the fad was to not want the world to even know you HAD parents, so forget being seen in public with them!

Thanks for keeping it real, Lane! You are an awesome parent, and it makes me try harder and not give up too!


Anonymous said...

Having raised two of my own, I can say that teenagers are never easy--whether you grow them yourselves from a tiny seed or you get them preplanted by someone else!

What else do you need? Perseverence, constant care, a good planting medium for strong roots and a container that gives them just enough room to grow.