I was out walking my dog one evening when I heard my neighbor call out to his mother, who was also walking her dog, "Mom, hurry up! The Middle is on!"
I thought, "How nice that they enjoy a TV together." My 9-year-old had no interest in anything my husband and I watch – especially anything with guns or even worse, kissing (yuck!). And for Suzi, if it isn’t about a princess or on the Disney Channel, well, she’s got other things to do.
(Disclaimer: We don’t intentionally show them programs with guns, but both guns and kids – who you think are sleeping – do tend to pop up unexpectedly, don’t they?)
As for the girls’ programs, well, just how many times can you see the same episode of Wizards of Waverly Place without wanting to run away from home?
So, in the name of family togetherness, I decided to suggest we live up to our neighbor’s example and watch The Middle together.
I already knew that I loved the show. How could I not? It’s about the imperfect lives of a Midwestern, middle-class family. I love watching imperfection, since I certainly live it.
The parents are just struggling to stay employed and get by. The teenaged boy argues with his parents over chores. The teenaged girl is bubbly, enthusiastic and blissfully unaware of her unpopularity at school. The elementary school son is quirky and smart and a wee bit strange. And to the mom, it seems like they were all assembled to embarrass the heck out of her. Hmm, why does that seem familiar?
Maybe that pro-mom bias is what appeals to me. Like last season, when the husband said he didn’t know why his wife freaked out about Christmas and said he could organize the whole holiday in a few stress-free days. She accepted his challenge and I was thrilled when their holiday fell apart at his hands. Bah, husbands. What do they know?
Anyway, the first time we watched the show, the girls were mesmerized. They laughed at the obvious jokes, and looked sharply at me and my husband when we laughed at the more wicked jokes that went over their heads. When the show was over, Patti proclaimed, "That is just like real life." Suzi liked the little boy.
For me, I love how the mom – named Frankie and played by Patricia Heaton – is always so frustrated that her family just can’t seem to live up to the supposedly perfect families all around her. Yet in each episode she manages to find the blessings in her home, in spite of each family member’s various limitations.
I live that experience every day.
Now on Wednesday evening, all I have to do is call out that The Middle is coming on and homework gets wrapped up, dishes delivered to the counter, and kids and adults snuggle into the family room together. It’s one of the rare times each week when every member of the family is motivated to be in the same room at the same time, without the promise of food.