Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Good Parenting

WARNING: if you are under 18, you might disagree with the opinion below. Not that I consider that a good reason not to read--if we only read things we agree with, how boring would that be?

Reasons to watch Castle Monday nights on ABC:

1. It stars Nathan Fillion, formerly Malcolm Reynolds of Firefly (also known as Captain Tightpants.)

2. Nathan Fillion plays a mystery writer, Richard Castle. Why wouldn't I love him?

3. Nathan Fillion, as Richard Castle, is a good dad.

Not because he's single or hip or rich or famous or, well, formerly Captain Malcolm Reynolds. Not solely because his daughter is both endearing and wonderfully grounded (although that does say something about his fictional parenting.)

I'm going to admit something very embarrassing here--I'll understand if you feel the need to turn away and retch.

When I was young and poor and lived with my husband in an apartment in Seattle, staying home with no car and my first baby, I was hooked on Beverly Hills 90210. I would videotape episodes on Monday night and savor them during naptimes later in the week. This only lasted a year or so but nowadays they're on constant re-run on satellite so I've seen pieces here and there when I'm, say, sick or otherwise disinclined to watch anything that requires the use of my brain.

Do you know what really stands out to me now? How self-righteous and arrogant and downright rude the teenagers are to their parents. And the parents take it! Okay, sometimes they lay down the law (like forbidding Brenda to see Dylan after finding out she lied to them and went to Mexico with her boyfriend for the weekend.) And then you get the obnoxious and defiant Brenda who finally brings them to a bargaining position by her tantrums. (Not that I'm denying having to bargain with teenagers--there does come a point when you are no longer physically capable of making your child obey.)

It's not the bargaining that gets to me--it's the attitudes of the teens. Because they are oh, so smart and oh, so rational while their parents are overreacting and need to be brought to see reason. The teens, mind you, never have to be brought to see their parents' point of view. It's a given that the parents are the ones whose minds need to change.

Not pleasant viewing for the mother of teenagers.

Back to Castle: the last weekend in October they aired a Halloween episode (which started with the funniest two minutes ever for fans of Firefly, but I digress) in which Castle's teen daughter, Alexis, gets permission to attend a senior party, with the caveat that she will call her dad if anything at all makes her uncomfortable.

Call she does, when her friend gets very drunk. Castles dashes out and then follows a brief scene that totally made me feel like maybe I'm not the only one who thinks that parents might know a thing or two more than their teens.

Castle: "We've got to call her parents. Give me the number."
Drunk friend: indecipherable muttering
Castle: "What did she say?"
Alexis (his daughter): "It's drunk talk. She says don't call her parents, they'll murder her, let her sleep over. Do we have to call her parents?"
Castle: "We do."
Alexis: "She'll get in so much trouble."
Castle: "Less than if you'd left her there."
Alexis: shoots him a pleading look, the kind that would make most TV dads melt
Castle: "Now."
Alexis finds the number, hands him her phone and he calls.

I hope all my children's friends have parents like that. Because while I have been known to want to--well, not murder my children--but maybe incarcerate for a long period in an empty room with no electronic devices of any sort, I love them desperately and there is nothing they can do that I don't want to know about. Not that I wouldn't get mad if I were the drunk friend's parents--but how on earth am I supposed to help my child if I'm kept in the dark?

Captain Tightpants, you can give me parenting tips anytime.

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