Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Sailor's Promise

Would you trust this man to keep his word?

In our family, television = love. It's how we communicate and connect and understand the world. Some might think that's sad, but, frankly, I have enough to feel guilty about and this one doesn't really bother me. It works for us and it gives us a lot of cultural capital, which we can share with the world. Sam can ride to Sunday School carpool and reenact the opening skit from Saturday Night Live for all his buddies, and Emma and I can have meaningful discussions about the pitfalls of meeting your future mate on a reality television show; or the reasons that it's not necessarily advisable to put your toddler in a beauty pageant; or the dangers that ensue when you're Tori Spelling and you have a secretly psychotic boyfriend, or your dad is Tony Danza and he secretly has multiple personality disorder. It's all part of the joy and wonder we call "parenting."

So it's no surprise that, like the rest of us, Molly loves her TV. Since our old DVR died, we lost all of our old Teletubbies episodes, which was a little sad, but Sesame Street still comes on every day, and at last count, we had 29 archived episodes taking up TiVO space. Her favorite episode changes weekly. Lately it's been all about the Curly Bear. She has her favorite episodes memorized, word for word, so that she sounds like the annoying guy you know who insists on quoting lines from Caddyshack all day long. Or like my late grandmother who, when for some hard-to-fathom reason we took her to see National Lampoon's Vacation, proceeded to loudly sing along with "La Marseillaise," much to our dismay. But I digress.

Molly has "Curly Bear" memorized, and "Mine-itis," and many other classic episodes. But as I've mentioned here before, she also loves the opening themes for all television shows. When we watch a grown-up show, she wants to see the opening credits again and again: "Again Teeth?" she asks at the beginning of Ugly Betty or "Again Gone?" at the start of Top Chef. It's kind of cute, but then it quickly gets annoying because we want to watch the actual show instead of watching the credits roll again and again and again.

So one night, Emma, being an expert in child psychology and a highly motivated television watcher, came up with a plan. She told Molly that she would make her a "Sailor's Promise" that we could watch the "song" at the beginning of the show we were watching as soon as the show was over. She and Molly shook on it and sealed it with the immortal words, "It's a deal."

I feel a little bad about this. A "Sailor's Promise"????? It's not as if sailors are particularly trustworthy. It seems to me that a "Sailor's Promise" is what Fletcher Christian gave to Captain Bligh, and look how it turned out for him. But now, Molly thinks it's a thing. And so, whenever Molly wants something and we don't want to or can't do it right away, we shake hands and solemnly pledge a "Sailor's Promise." Molly pledges right along with us. I know this will come back to bite us all.

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