I love, love, love watching Super Nanny. I’ve only seen it a few times, and I don’t think I could even tell you when it’s on, but when I stumble over that show.. BOOM! I’m hooked. Sunk. Otherwise occupied until the credits roll.
Why? Simple. I love Super Nanny for the same reason people love “My Super Sweet Sixteen,” “Engaged and Underaged,” “Scott Baio is 40 and Single” or “Breaking Bonaduce.”
We love these shows because they make us feel normal. We can watch people be selfish, nasty, superficial, misguided and generally screwed up, and then we can turn off the t.v., think, “Well, THOSE PEOPLE are messed up,” and go back to our own mundane lives feeling all self-righteous and normal.
For instance, one of my favorite things to do is to watch “America’s Next Top Model” while eating Haagen Dazs coffee ice cream directly from the container. Mmmmmm~! I know it’s a bit twisted, but I don’t care. It makes me feel all smug. I can’t explain why.
Maybe it’s because I’m short and these girls are all nearly 6′ tall. Maybe it’s because pictures of uber-skinny women contribute to a society that breeds 10 year olds who think that unless their stomachs are concave, they’re fat. Maybe it’s just because I’m fascinated by fashion and love Haagen Dazs coffee ice cream. Who knows?
I can, however, tell you exactly why I love watching Super Nanny: it makes me feel like a fabulous parent. I’ve mentioned before that parenting is hard. At what age is it appropriate for a kid to go up to the park without a parent? At what age should a kid get a cell phone? How do you NOT turn to the little punk flirting with your 10 year old daughter and say, “What’re YOU starin’ at, Junior?” Seriously, how do you not? I had trouble with that one yesterday. Oops.
What’s not hard are the problems suffered by the parents on Super Nanny. Is it okay to let your 5 year old routinely strangle your 2 year old? Um, no. Next. Should you react to your daughter calling your home a dump by buying her more expensive things to make up for it? Um, no. Next. Should it take 4 hours to get kids to go to bed every night, and should you end up sleeping in their room because it’s the only way to get them to stop screaming and throwing things down the steps? Um, NO.
The kids and parents on Super Nanny are totally out of control. I watch kids kick, bite and curse at their parents. I watch parents refuse to set any limits and then wonder why their kids act like little demons. I shake my head and say, “OMG, these guys are totally out of control!” And then, after the credits roll, I turn off the t.v. and return to my own life feeling much more in control than those other parents.
Life with kids is semi-out-of-control by nature. The second you get the hang of a certain age or stage or habit, the kid grows out of it and you’re into uncharted territories again. I find it’s easy to get caught up in the moment when my kids push my buttons. It’s easy to get mad and lose sight of the fact that kids are supposed to push their parents’ buttons.
And yet, in the midst of this, I’ve managed to raise kids who don’t kick, bite or curse at me. They argue, they fight, and they roll their eyes, sure, but they’re decent human beings. They’re polite and helpful when I’m not looking. They’re funny and smart and they keep me on my toes. Pains-in-the-butt sometimes? You bet. But in general, they’re really cool little people.
I don’t take credit for all of this, though my mother advises me to do so since she knows I’ll take credit for all of the bad stuff. After watching Super Nanny, though, I do allow myself to take some credit for not messing them up too badly yet.