Thursday, July 03, 2008

"This American Life" and parenting

I love "This American Life" on NPR, and I know I'm not the only one. Something about the way they take a very ordinary experience, and draw it out, describe the details, and spin it into something extraordinary. I often imagine myself being on the radio, describing some mundane experience in my life in exquisite detail, a la TAL, and sounding so incredibly intellectual and hip.

In my dreams.

The topic of TAL is often related to parenting, or rather, parent-child relationships, and I find these very interesting. Today, I was listening to an episode in which a grown man was describing an event from his childhood in which his parents bought him a bike, and he proceeded to leave it outside a store, and it was stolen, on the way home from the bike store. Needless to say, he was devastated by this, and after the long walk home, couldn't even imagine what his punishment would be. The thing is, his father had been the one that took the bike. He took it to teach his son a lesson.

Not only was that a surprising ending to the story, but then they had the father and his now-grown son talking about the incident, and the father was actually distressed by the incident, and felt that he had been too harsh with his son. The son actually saw the incident, and it's outcome, very differently. (You can listen to this story here, Act 2)

So listening to this leads me to imagine myself and J, 20 or 30 or 40 years hence, having a similar conversation about some issue about J's growing up years. Something that I'll feel badly about for years, and he will have forgotten. Something he can never forget, yet I will have forgotten. Will TAL still be around then? Could we get on the show? Will we want to?

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