Our new house is considerably smaller than our old house, especially the kitchen. There’s no dishwasher and a lot less counter space, so I had to do dishes yesterday morning by hand; the lack of dish-stacking space required I do them in two batches. The boys were watching The Little Mermaid in the living room and “Under the Sea” drifted into the kitchen, calling to mind the ants from Garfield and Friends (I know, my mind makes weird connections sometimes). While I was drying the first half of the dishes and humming along, I got to thinking.
It’s a dangerous pastime. I know. 😀
My sister and I used to get up early on Saturday mornings – we had to if we wanted to see Underdog and Rocky and Bullwinkle. Eventually our parents would get up and, while we were occupied with Garfield and Friends and The Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show, Daddy would do the dishes.
He always washed them by hand – we never had a dishwasher growing up, but even if we had, I’m not sure he would have used it. Years of scrubbing dishes in scalding water had left his hands immune to the heat, which always made Saturday night bath time a hot affair.
Daddy always did dishes in two batches: plates, bowls, and cups first, and silverware and utensils next. He’d get a sinkful of fresh water and let the silverware soak while he had a smoke, and sometimes, if we’d been good, he’d come in the living room and watch Bugs Bunny with us for a bit. He loved Looney Tunes, especially Sylvester the cat, Yosemite Sam, and Pepe LePeu, and we loved watching those old cartoons with him.
The appearance of any one of these characters onscreen would send us racing into the kitchen, hoping that if we chanted the character’s name loudly enough, he’d leave the dishes and watch cartoons with us. We’d squeal with delight as he impersonated Porky Pig‘s goofy stammer and Sylvester’s slobbery lisp.
Saturday mornings now are different, and not just because I’m the parent instead of the kid. Those old cartoons aren’t on anymore and the ones that are on aren’t the same. Luckily for me, I can share the shows I loved as a kid with my own children, thanks to the wonders of the interwebs and those lovely DVD box sets, but the kids don’t always share my taste in cartoons.
At least they share my taste in Disney movies. 🙂
I wonder now what went through Daddy’s mind, how he felt, when we begged him to watch with us the shows he’d enjoyed as a younger man. Joy? Amusement? Sadness, perhaps, over his poor relationship with his own father and his other children and hope that his relationship with us someday would be different?
When I sit down to watch the movies of my youth with my own children, I can’t help feeling a mix of emotions. I love just relaxing on the couch with them all snuggled up on my lap. I love how they’re so easily enthralled by Mulan and Aladdin. I love watching Bubbles and Tadpole gain a new understanding of things they overlooked when they were younger (like that “horse with two rear ends” joke in Aladdin that I thought was hilarious as a kid but totally didn’t understand).
But these happy feelings are tempered by the knowledge that I can’t share them with my parents, that I can’t benefit from all the things they learned while raising me. Such lessons would be enormously valuable – Thumper is stubbornness personified and rumor has it I was little better.
And then I wonder – what will my kids remember about Saturdays when they’re parents someday? Will they remember temper tantrums and naptime battles that have lately become routine? Or will they remember the fun, the togetherness, that warm feeling you get when you’re surrounded by people who love you unconditionally? Because if nothing else, that is the one thing I would wish for them to remember: how much they are loved.
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