What would Pa say?

“The universe, I’d learned, was never, ever kidding. It would take whatever it wanted and it would never give it back.” Cheryl Strayed

I’ve learned that lesson more than a few times in my life. It informs most of my major decision making I think, at least by now. The feelings of having the proverbial rug pulled out from under me are no longer novel, shocking emotions. I have developed an ability to say “Shit, here we go again.” I put my head down and dig in because it has been a good while since I believed that most things, the big ones anyway, just worked out. That isn’t always true.

Parenting presents it’s own challenges though, even for the seasoned trooper. Because all of a sudden it’s so much worse than your own hardships. Now it’s something perpetrated against the most innocent, undeserving target imaginable. Your own child. The one you would shield from anything, do shield from anything, until you can’t. The global aperture opens up each year and bigger, badder things start to seep in to your well-insulated capsule. That carefully created bomb shelter that first took shape in your womb. Then they break free of that fetal sac and into the great wide open, so you do your best to recreate it in all ways possible. Protection. Care. Concern. Worry.

Each year, however, makes this job harder, and vastly more complex. I am only 8.5 years into the journey and already I have been outclassed by other 8.5 year olds, the internet, competitive sports, life in general for the child growing up in today’s world.

This of course is very normal. In fact, I am living the experience of each and every caring mother out there. It just feels different (worse?) when its your kid. Right?

So not having my own mother to turn to with the myriad and endless questions I have about raising decent, kind, happy, respectful boys on a daily basis, there are those times when I need a reliable, trustworthy source. Someone I know has the answers. Someone whose head is on straight and who’s moral compass is unquestionably accurate. Thank god I have that someone.

His name is Michael Landon.

Yes. I admit it. When I do not know what to say to Colt when he says “I was working up the courage to ask so and so to play but the other kids were making fun,” I mentally flip through my extensive and thorough rolodex of Little House on the Prairie episodes and think of just the right one for the task. And you know what? There is ALWAYS an episode.

I would like to thank the good people at NBC and Apple for coming to agreeable terms on licensing the entire LHOTP catalog and making it readily available to people like me. People who look to Half Pint and Manly for relationship tips. The kind of folks who think that if one strives enough, one really can conjure up the grace and calm of Ma in the midst of three boys fist fighting and ball punching each other.

Few and far between are people made of Pa’s mettle. Was there ever a more sure-footed father figure in all of pop culture history? Not to mention the hair. That hair! The guy always had an answer, and he didn’t make it easy. Mary had to work to figure it out on her own, because Pa knew she could. Carrie fell down a well? We’ll band together and fish her out. Because with Pa at the helm no mountain was too high.

And didn’t we all have a Nellie Olson to contend with? I know I did. I used to race home from school and watch LHOTP every single day, and I remember thinking, “Today was just like that episode when Nellie stole Laura’s horse for the big race.” Damn that Nellie. What a bitch.

I think at this point I have tortured my boys with this habit. They think it’s lame, of course. They make fun of me, roll their eyes and say “not again Mom!” But then they settle down and invariably become enthralled in the episode du jour because there is always a lesson to be learned, a loving family supporting one another, and real life issues that are as relevant today as they were in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s day. Timeless I tell you.

So when Colt came home last May from another tough day at school and I cued up “I’ll Be Waving as You Drive Away (Part 1)” from Season 4, he watched dutifully. Mary’s eyesight was worsening, things were getting serious. I was at the edge of my seat.

Colt: “Mom, I don’t want to hurt your feelings but could we listen to music instead of watching the second part?”
Me: “Well, yes Colt but don’t you want to see what happens? If she goes totally blind? Will Seth still love her? How Laura handles it????”
Colt: “Ummmm, sort of. Could you play “Infinity 2008″ instead?”

Sometimes you just gotta dance.


  1. Ah, the “good old days”, thanks for reminding me of them! As always, a great read!
    Miss you and the Jones Boys at the Y!

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