Crying in Cars With Babies

We were 6 hours in on our return trip from Sydney to Melbourne when He started to grumble. It was a slow build at first. A disgruntled 10-month-old, uncertain of where He was, why he was there and understandably annoyed with having to face backwards when all the fun seemed to be happening in the forward-facing seats of the car listening to My Dad Wrote a Porno (what! He’s 10 months old! It’s not like he knows what a taint is any way or how to even put it to good use!)

 
But within minutes’ whatever revelry – Nay- comradery we as new parents were experiencing in the front seats of our family-sized SUV was about to be threatened to within an inch of its life.

‘He needs his dummy’ JK postured.

Incy wincy spider-

‘He spat it out’ I declared.

Climbed up the water spout-

‘Well put it back in’

Down came the rain-

I distorted my body into a position I’ve coined ‘the early onset arthritis maker’.

And washed poor Spidey out –

No dummy could be found.

Out came the sunshine –

‘I can’t find it.’

And dried up all the rain –

‘What do you mean?’

So Incy Wincy Spider climbed up the spout again.

‘Do you need subtitles? I said I can’t find it.’

(*in rounds this time) Incy Wincy –

‘I’m driving’

Incy –

‘And?’

Spider climbed up the water spout

‘I can’t read and drive at the same time!’

Spider climbed up  –

‘Oh but you can direct and drive at the same time?’

Down came the rain and –

‘Yep’

Down came the –

‘Fine.’

Washed poor Spidey out –

I twist around again, this time certain I won’t be able to do stairs ever again.

Washed poor –

‘There are no dummies. He’s destroyed all and any evidence that they even existed before this car ride started! He’s a sociopath. A tiny sociopath.’

Out came the sunshine and dried up all the rain –

‘He’s a baby Lou, get a grip.’

Out came the sunshine –

‘Well they’re not THERE, THEY’RE NOT ANYWHERE! HE’S PLAYING US AGAINST EACH OTHER!’

2 hours later…

(*in a strong almost mocking French accent) Incy Wincy spider –

Having calmed down somewhat I was now in the driver’s seat, while John this time was battling Field of Screams’ and it was at this point, after non-stop screaming for no apparent reason other than ‘cause’ I finally started to get Punky Brewster’s mum – a much vilified and maligned woman from TV history or was she perhaps a misunderstood hero-mum who finally took a stand, said enough-is-enough?

I remember with great concern watching Punky Brewster as a child. Here was a young girl, left in a supermarket carpark by her mother, only to find solace and care with a retired elderly-yet-to-be-vetted old man whose apartment she broke into in a desperate attempt for shelter, food and safety. While I loved the show I never understood why more wasn’t done about her horrible, neglectful, monster of a mother – but now as I drove along ‘a google shortcut’ taking me to the middle of nowhere, I momentarily longed for the days of binge drinking and morning after pills.

Climbed up the water spout –

‘Maybe he needs a bottle?’ I suggested.

Down came the rain and washed –

Milk splattered all over the back seat.

Poor Spidey out –

‘Nup, that didn’t work’

Out came the sunshine and dried up the all the rain –

‘Food?’

So Incy Wincy Spider climbed up the spout again.

‘We have some leftover pizza. I’ll try that’

(* through the heavy weight of tears this time) Incy Wincy Spider –

‘Make sure you pick out the olives. He doesn’t like them!

Climbed up the water spout –

‘Nup, that didn’t work’

Down came the rain and washed –

‘You don’t work!’

And washed poor Spidey out –

‘He’s your son!’

Out came the sunshine –

‘You mean our son!’

And dried up all the rain –

‘Your son is possessed!  Can’t you see what he’s doing? He’s trying to destroy us.’

So Incy Wincy –

‘When he’s like this he’s your son. We had a deal remember?’

I hate this song! I hate this f**king song!!!!!!

‘Na-uh’

‘Yes ah-uh’

‘Get out of my SON YOU DEMON! WHAT DO YOU WANT????!!!!’

3 hours later…

(*with the aching jaw of a speed addict) Incy Wincy Spider –

Pitch black, raining and with tears streaming down all our faces now I pulled into a near empty service station. The outline of Melbourne glistening on the horizon, so close, yet so far…

‘You’re an idiot’

And then without saying a word, we both jumped out of the car, pacing around it, taking deep breaths and cheap jabs at each other.

‘No, you’re an idiot’

And then silence.

Not the silence you get from slamming a car door, locking the noise within. No, actual silence.

Could it be?

We opened this car door with as much hope as a virgin at the schoolies…

And…

He was asleep.

Our little angel was asleep.

It was beautiful. He was beautiful. A f**king miracle.

We looked at each other.

‘I love you.’

‘I love you too.’

‘I’m sorry I snapped before’

‘No I’m sorry.’

We hoped back in the car, our relationship restored, our family still intact.

We even picked a new podcast for the last one hour left of our trip.

But then suddenly the silence was shattered –

Incy Wincy Spider climbed up the water spout…

 

 

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Where’s My Murphy Brown?

 

Last week as I wandered the streets looking for purpose, I overheard a woman and her friend bemoan the current state of television.

‘I miss family shows you know? Like, The Cosby Show and Hey Dad.’

Her friend nodded in agreement as if she too had been stuck down a mine shaft with her companion for the last three years…

I watched as they continued on their way, no doubt going home to old VHS recordings of The Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris Variety Hour while eating Subway sandwiches.

Nostalgia can be a powerful thing. It makes us reflect on more ‘wholesome’ times, even if most of the time we are reflecting through rose coloured glasses.

Indeed, when it comes to TV we are particularly susceptible to this, just look at the recent reboots of Fuller House and The Gilmore Girls. We somehow have managed to convince ourselves that these shows were from a better time, you know, when you stayed at home with the family, without a single smartphone screen in site and simply watched families be real families – unlike like the chaos of TV today.

Yet they were from a better time, but for a much better reason – TV was bolder, not always in a good way, but it took chances.

Stay with me on this…

And nothing was bolder than situation comedy…

I can’t cover all the comedy from the 80s through to the 90s, so I’m going with a few that just popped into my head while I thought about this topic.

I’m going to start with Punky Brewster – this is a show you couldn’t pitch today unless it was reworked as a gritty urban drama written by the guy who penned The Wire.

For those of you that aren’t familiar, 7-year old Punky Brewster was a modern-day Annie. Abandoned by her mother, along with her dog Brandon, in a grocery store car park, she finds shelter in an empty apartment, only to be discovered by building manager Henry – a single, older man who lives on his own.  She moves in with this stranger and it all works out happily ever after.

Ok, to recap – abandoned 7-year-old girl, moves into a squat and is discovered by a man, whose other passion aside from building maintenance, is photography. In the 80s this was a ridiculously popular family friendly show. Today, it’s a Law & Order SVU episode.

Like I said, bold.

And let’s not forget The Golden Girls. A bunch of women over the age of 50 (yes, over 50 and on actual television screens) all without the responsibilities of husbands and children (well, with the exception of Sofia, but that’s different) live a wonderful, friendship filled, at times challenging but rewarding life in Miami, with their own storylines and character motivations. They even eat cheesecake at least once a night and they actually look like women who would eat cake. And no, Hot in Cleveland is not the equivalent.  No, this show was groundbreaking and unfortunately one can’t help but feel that after that ground broke we’ve spent the better part of the last 20 years refilling the hole, and filling it with cement…

Let’s see, The Golden Girls tackled important issues such as aging, disability, gay rights, feminism (it was a feminist show full stop), AIDS, aged care, loneliness, death, gun control, reproductive rights – heck, it even covered Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – by using humour and pathos. So a bunch of amazing actresses over 50, on our televisions, being funny, with no fixed lead male characters…our equivalent today is….is….is….is…I’m sure something will come to me…maybe there’s something on Netflix…

Rosanne. There I said it. Weird ending aside, this show was and is to this day still bold TV. Yes, before Mike and Molly, believe it or not we had other large lead characters on our screens – Roseanne and Dan Conner. But being big wasn’t the focus of their show. No, it was about story, family and all the crap we have to get through every day just to survive. It was hilarious, relatable and is the reason I lusted after corkscrew curls for most of my teens.  Our equivalent of a working class family today – The Middle. That is all. I’m just going to leave that there – The Middle.

(P.S. By the way, the fact that real-life Darlene married the lead singer of 4 Non Blondes, makes up for the way the show ended…barely).

And in these days of debate surrounding gender pay gaps, abortion rights, gay and transgender rights and online trolling of women is our god damn Murphy Brown! The only comparison that springs to mind is Press Gang, but even then that show was of the same ilk and time. I can’t help but think our 2016 version of Murphy Brown would be the story of a single working mum trying to have it all, set to a montage backdrop of New York City.

Now I’m not saying that just because a show was bold makes it somehow better. There was definitely a fair share of bold and questionable in the 80s. Just take Perfect Strangers – and the less said about that the better. Much like the questionable set-up of Punky Brewster, Charles in Charge could easily be tainted with the same SUV brush today. Charles, a college-age student moves in with a family who has a teen daughter, as their babysitter and housekeeper. Yep, college student moves in with family, who has a teen daughter…and he becomes in charge of her day, of her life… I’m not saying college-age men can’t babysit 16-year-old girls, but this was the 80s and it was Scott Baio. That’s all I’m saying.

Maybe I just miss Let The Blood Run Free or Doogie Howser MD too much and that’s why I wrote this, but I’m not sure how much I’d like a reboot of a show about a teen genius that would inevitably just make me question the life choices that have lead me to still be a blogger and a renter at 36. Perhaps I don’t need bold TV like that, perhaps I should be content with groundbreaking TV like Modern Family that finally gives much-needed visibility to the older man/ younger woman relationship.

I’ll think about it… while I’m thinking about a TV comedy that stars women over 50 not being predominantly caregivers – sorry, couldn’t resist.

 

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