When I was a kid there was never a doubt that I would one day be married with children. It may seem a little strange that a little boy would feel this way but family is what I knew. I not only had my own family dad, mom, sister and brother, I had also had several TV families. I grew up with shows like Father Knows Best, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, Make Room for Daddy, the Donna Reed Show, Leave it To Beaver, and so many more family oriented shows. They were on all the time. Each week I would sit in front of the television and watch another episode in their happy little family lives. TV dad, mom and the kids always had something going on.
Dad was always a kind, considerate and resourceful man, who was slow to anger, pleasant and fun to be around. Of course, he could be stern when he needed to be and always gave great advice. He went off to work each morning with a kiss and a smile from his lovely stay at home wife and always came home to a marvelously prepared dinner. In addition to being a great cook, mom was a loving, caring wife and mother who kept an unusually tidy house and occasionally managed to put out a family fire or two on her own. Together mom and dad made an exceptionally good parental team.
For me, the kids were the real stars of the shows. They were so much fun to grow up with. I loved to watch them interact with family and friends and get themselves in and out of jams. I think I actually learned a few things from them. Yeah, they were family like us in so many ways, but also different. I used to wonder how the families could always get along so well. They were also so happy and care-free. Oh, Bud and Princess got into it ever now and then and the Beaver and Wally didn’t always get along. All the TV kids had their moments and TV dad and mom got upset on occasion, but the problems and situations they faced were always so manageable. Usually, all it took was a family talk or a private word or two with the kids and everything was back to normal. I guess there’s only so much you can deal with in a 22 minute, episode.
Back in the day TV mom and dad never had to deal with anything that got them super upset. They never had big arguments or disagreements or flew into a rage. Never once did I ever see Jim or Ozzie reach for a belt to discipline their kids. TV mom never lost it and hit the kids with a spatula or even a shoe. It never happened. They were the ideal families who all got along wonderfully well, too well. Still, They reminded us of our own families, certainly not every aspect, but enough to make us feel akin to these make-believe families and their trouble free lives.
In the real world kids will be kids and they don’t always get along nor do they always stay out of trouble. Can you imagine Ward and June dealing with some major problems? They may have never really lost their cool back then, but it would have been hard to stay cool, calm and collected if for instance Wally had been expelled from school, arrested for selling drugs or God forbid, got a girl pregnant? What if the Beaver and Larry Mondello became the schoolyard bullies and extorted money from their classmates or were jumped into a gang? And how would Jim and Margaret handle things if Kitten got busted for shoplifting for the tenth time or came home with another skin-piercing or tattoo? And poor Princess, home from college early and pregnant. Now those would be some crazy episodes! If that had been the case maybe I might have thought twice about wanting to grow up and have a family of my own.
But times were much simpler back then. We were innocent and naive compared to kids today. Now kids as young as nine and ten are aware of things I didn’t know until I was well into my teens. Well I grew up and had that family I always wanted. I suppose at times it was a lot like those old TV families, fun and carefree, but there were plenty of times it wasn’t. We had our moments, still we managed to keep it together and I’m proud to say that my three children have grown up to be fine, upstanding adults. Now they are raising families of their own. I pray that God grants them more than their share of happy TV family moments. They deserve them.