The arrival of Father’s Day got me thinking. Scary, I know, but stick with me.
I used to watch the ABC After School Specials when I was a kid. I loved that show. Families full of angst. Drug problems, eating disorders, divorce. Great stuff. The best part was by the end of the show everyone apologized, fixed their problems and lived happily ever after. You can’t make that stuff up. Oh, wait. They did!
I have an ABC After School Special dad. My very own, like a wart or a hang nail. The only problem is we never got to the end of the show. No brilliant revelations, trip to the therapist (for him at least) or grand apologizes. I stopped watching, I mean waiting. It’s okay, really. You can’t pick your parents.
I always wanted a dad like Howard Cunningham from Happy Days. He went to work at the hardware store, came home and had dinner with his family every night. Or maybe a dad like Mike Brady from The Brady Bunch. He always gave brilliant advice at the exact right moment and he never raised his voice. There’s lots of yelling in the ABC After School Special house. At least until the end of the show, if you get there.
You learn lots of things about yourself when your life mirrors television. You learn how to be brave when a bully walks into a room. You learn how to find your voice and use it. You learn to laugh at the bloopers and rewrite the script. You learn how to be one darn good director.
We aren’t defined by the shows we watch or are we? Would I be the same strong, determined woman I am today if my childhood resembled The Cosby Show? (Though my childhood was over by the time that show aired, but you get the drift.) What would it have been like to be Fred Sanford’s daughter? Messy I suspect.
I wouldn’t change a thing about having an ABC After School Special dad. It’s the price to pay for having my mom who may not be Carol Brady (my mother has better hair) or Marion Cunningham, but she’s mine and I wouldn’t trade her for all the moms in the world. Real or television.
Here’s to all the ABC After School Special families. Show’s over.