Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary

the comforts of home

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Mar 21, 2006

In the course of an interview, Barb Nicolosi ponders what meaning comedy, tragedy, and melodrama might have for a child growing-up in a very contemporary social setting.

I was at a real live freak show not long ago with a woman who is a studio writer. Her daughter was playing in a soccer game. This woman was divorced and remarried. So, sitting at the game was the woman and her ex-husband in the center -- because they are the "parents of note," even though they don't live together. Next to the woman is her new husband cradling their new baby. Next to husband number two is his fifteen year old, really bored son from his previous marriage. Meanwhile, on the other side next to the ex-husband, is his new wife with their new baby. And next to her is Debbie, with whom the father lived for three years after the initial divorce, and before he married the new one. In the three years of co-habitation, Debbie bonded with the little girl out there kicking the ball around, because she was there from 8-11, so Debbie was another pseudo mother figure. But wait, Debbie's new boyfriend is also there. And then also in the line is the nanny, who has been the only real constant in the little girl's life.

I'm sitting there, and all these people are all healthy and chatting and meanwhile, they are all kind of fervently there for the little girl so they can show that they are really invested in her, and they have so screwed up her life. She is a mess. I'm saying to myself, "What is comedy for this kid?" Her life is a circus. It's an absolute freak show that can only have one predictable result as a child-raising strategy -- nightmare! But anyway, in terms of the child's ability to appreciate comedy, exactly what is going to make her laugh? Real perverted, twisted stuff. And that is in fact the case.

Good point. The circus is only amusing when it's something you can leave. Yet it's interesting how many people turn up to give "moral support" to the child whom each (almost) has let down in some way. At some level they must realize it was shabby to choose personal desires over familial responsibility, and they pay the price of carefully metered "quality time" as if they were paying an excise tax imposed on their guilty pleasures.

The child would be unusual if she did not cotton on to the gamesmanship and learn how to extort attention and favors from her many emotional debtors. Is there any aspect of her character or her personally that won't be affected for the worse by living with adults who refuse to grow up? Barb is probably right that her aesthetic sense is as twisted as her childhood. I can't imagine how a pastor -- should anyone ever happen to have that relationship to the child -- would begin to straighten what has been spiritually bent.

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