среда, 28 ноября 2012 г.

My Reality TV

By Susan Struth

In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future.
~Alex Haley

It was "dumpster day." The amount of clutter in our house had increased proportionately with the number of people and pets who live here. New items come into our house daily but very little goes out. The dumpster beckoned me as I considered the scope of the job ahead.
My husband and I trudged from room to room to purge our home of unused and unnecessary items. In my manic search to throw out anything that hadn't been touched by human hands in recent history, I went into the family room. Everything was fair game and the old Disney videos were no exception.

I dug through the videos and gleefully tossed aside those meant for preschoolers, not teenagers. My daughter, Katie, and her friend, Kim, entered the room. "What are you doing?" Katie questioned.

"Cleaning. If you see something you can't live without, speak up now or forever hold your peace." As the girls looked through the outcasts, I stumbled upon containers of family videos.

"Katie, look... videos of you and your sister when you were younger!" The descriptions on the sides of the tapes showed a journey through time, with birthdays, vacations, births and recitals.

"Can we watch the day you taped me and Kim while we played in the snow?" Katie asked.

"Sure, why not? I could use a break," I replied. The three of us plopped down on the couch.

"Remember how you yelled at Kim to get off the sled?" asked Katie.

"I did not!"

Kim laughed, "Yes, you did."

Confidently, I replied, "The proof is on this tape!" The next few minutes were filled with laughter from both the video, and the three of us, as we watched it.

Nicole, my older daughter, entered the room. "What are you watching?"

Katie replied, "A video of the day Mom yelled at Kim."

I looked at her and rolled my eyes. The proof came moments later. Evidently, my idea of speaking firmly is perceived as "yelling" by my kids. So much for instant replay.

The movie marathon continued and even the dogs joined in. Teddy, our over-sized Wheaton Terrier, barked at his own voice when he heard it on the tape and Mollie, our Miniature Schnauzer, joined in the chorus.

Over the next two and a half hours, the four of us sat in a row on the sofa munching on Goldfish crackers and watching the past seventeen years of our lives unfold before our eyes.

Precious moments, long forgotten, were acted out as if on a stage. My older daughter is now a mature young lady who talks about politics, life and college. But that afternoon I had the pleasure of seeing her filled with the joy of a six-year-old while she rode her bike and acted silly. She seemed much louder than I had remembered.

And we'd all forgotten Katie's use of the word "mudder," most commonly heard in the phase "You're not the mudder, Cole" directed at her sister Nicole's bossiness. I'd always wished that we had caught her "muddering" that word on tape... and much to my delight, we had!

Just like an America's Funniest Home Videos production, we watched a two-and-a-half-year-old Katie glide on her stomach down our new slide. Halfway down, she stopped herself with her hands. Suddenly, Katie was no longer visible through the video camera lens. I panned the camera to the right and saw she had fallen off. We could hear her cries of, "Bug, it's a bug!" in the background. I walked closer to the slide and the camera eventually exposed a tiny, transparent bug barely visible to the naked eye in the center of the slide. Katie bawled in the background, "Go home to your mudder, bug!" I heard my own laughter in the video, which reminded me how enjoyable my time with them at that age had been.

My husband walked by with his arms filled with old board games. He stopped and turned his head in my direction and gave me a, "Hello... wanna help me?" look.

Instead, I smiled and said, "You should come watch with us. These videos are great!" He shook his head and continued out the garage door.

We watched a little while longer, but I realized my husband's recent trip past me was a sign to continue with my real mission for that day. I resumed my chores, but something inside me felt different.

Katie spent the rest of the day calling me "Mudder." Nicole, who was working in a summer kindergarten program at that time, kept making comparisons to herself at the age of six and some of her students. The antics she found so endearing in her students were some of the very things she used to do.

As my girls have reached their teenage years, I have often wondered where I am headed. I have wallowed in a mid-life quandary, which sometimes plagues me and makes me want more for myself.

When I watched those home videos, I was able to momentarily cast aside what I had previously felt. Maybe it's not only about where I am heading in the future, but also what I have done in the past.

It's easy to see what others have, but easier to miss what is right in front of you. That afternoon was one of the best moments of my life — an afternoon of television I will never forget.

Now, that's reality TV!

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