Parenting ala Sherwood Schwartz
My love affair with Gilligan’s Island began back in the late 60’s. I don’t remember too many episodes that aired on prime time, except the one where the castaways thought their island was haunted. I remember hiding behind the couch for the entire episode, just barely peaking over the top during the exact toothpaste commercials that aired the week before. When I was a little older, I would unwind from exhausting days at Lincoln Elementary School by watching Gilligan on KTVU. By the time I was in college I could nail Gilligan’s Island trivia. I was the Go-to-Gilligan girl during Trivia Night at the local pub. Even today I can watch the first seconds of the show and explain the entire episode. Little did I know while watching those 98 episodes again and again and again (2156 minutes…36 hours…multiplied by who knows how many times I have caught the show on re-runs) that Gilligan’s Island would be the silent partner in my parenting of Noah. Okay, I’ll say it right here…Gilligan may not have ever helped the castaways off the island but he sure as heck rescued me!
Parenting Noah these past almost four years has been an adventure. And I don’t mean adventure as in the happy-go-lucky theme park adventure. Our family has travelled a long winding road covered with potholes, fallen branches, and road kill. Up to a year ago I was on the brink of pulling the mini van over, jumping out of the drivers seat and storming back in the direction I came from with my hands waving in the air yelling, “I GIVE UP!” But then, something happened. Netflix. Netlix and Gilligan’s Island.
Jeff and I started watching Gilligan’s Island with Sam and Noah about a year ago to help them wind down that hour before bedtime. We began with episode one and each night we would checked off two episodes in our quest to watch all 98.
Always the inquisitive one, Noah asked that first night, “What’s this show about?”
Smiling, I responded as I was confident I would never have the chance to voice the synopsis of Gilligan’s Island to such innocent ears again. Holding back on my hearty-har-har singing I began to speak with dramatic animation, “Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, A tale of a fateful trip that started from this tropic port, aboard this tiny ship. The mate was a might sailing man, the skipper brave and sure. Five passengers set sail that day on a three hour tour. The weather started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed. If not for the courage of the fearless crew the Minnow would be lost…the Minnow would be lost. The ship set ground on the shore of this uncharted desert isle with Gilligan, the Skipper too, the millionaire and his wife, the movie star, the professor and Mary Ann. Here on Gilligan’s Isle.”
Noah grinned at me with a wide open smile. Yep, I had him at ‘Just sit right back’.
So we started watching Gilligan’s Island and as we did I realized how extremely frustrated I got with Gilligan for messing everything up. Every. Single. Episode!! I don’t know if it was my hyper-mothering-I’m annoyed with you- radar or what, but Gilligan just really started to bug the heck out of me…big time! I would pull my hair and yell at the tv. Then I noticed when Noah would do things that got him in trouble I would have the same reaction! I would start to pull my hair and…yell. When I would return to the TV to watch another episode I started to witness the unconditional love the castaways had for each other. Even though Gilligan messed up over 90 rescue attempts, they continued to embrace him in their island family. Everything he did, even though he messed up, he did to be helpful. He was never mean spirited. Or cruel. He did what he did for his people because I know he wanted off that island as much as Ginger or Mary Ann or the Professor did.
And then, like a ton of coconuts, it hit me. I am raising my very own Gilligan. He washed the car with a bucket of suds and pebbles because he wanted to surprise me with a clean car. He put a hard boiled egg in the microwave because he wanted to find a more efficient way to reheat and peel hard boiled eggs. He wanted to help with laundry and added “a lot” of soap to make things “super clean” and didn’t know it would flood the room and burn up the motor. There are at least 98 more episodes of Noah’s troubles and then some! Now, whenever he does something that tries my patience I silently sing the Gilligan’s Island theme song before I react.
Awhile back I shared my thoughts with my husband Jeff. Then I asked him, “With Gilligan as our son…are we ever going to get off this island, Skipper?”
He laughed and smiled, “No Mary Ann, I’m afraid we’re stuck on this island for a very long time.”