Monday, November 24, 2014

Review of a Review of Parenthood

I really love Parenthood, even though it drives me bonkers.  I like Scandal too but it drives me so bonkers that I don't even like it as much as I used to.  But I feel like I long ago accepted that the Braverman family of Parenthood drives me nuts but I love them and I am used to it.  I read Alan Sepinwall's review of last week's episode before I watched it, which I sometimes do, because Parenthood is on Thursdays at 10:00 and I rarely am able to watch it on Friday, because I am home with Felicity, and then I work all weekend, and I wanted to know if anything big happened.

So I read his review and I thought, good God, what did Max do?  Max is the character with Autism, although they always say Asperger's on the show.  He is the middle son of Adam and Kristina Braverman and he is ... maybe 13?  Fourteen?  I don't know, but he was a little kid when the show started.  So here's what Alan Sepinwall (a reviewer who I love, and not just because he's from NJ) had to say about the Max part of the episode:

This week's worst offenders: Kristina and Adam, who are spectacularly out of line for the majority of the episode. It's not just that Kristina has completely failed her role as headmistress and protector of the other kids at Chambers by choosing to be Max's mother first and foremost, but that she and Adam are doing such a lousy job of being Max's parents. There is trying to make the world bend a little to accommodate a kid with special needs, and then there is enabling your son's ongoing harassment of other kids in his class, getting angry when other people object to it as such, and even assuring Max that he was not harassing Dylan, even though he really, really was. When Dylan's mom says that they only see things through the lens of Max, it is perhaps the truest thing anyone has said in the history of this show. Yet this entire fiasco — including Kristina being rightly called out in front of all the other Chambers parents — goes away after one apology from Max, even if it's incredibly eloquent and self-aware for him. At least Kristina and Adam finally recognize how wrong they were, but they were way too self-righteously incorrect for way too long.

So, I read this review and I thought wow, what did Max do?  In the storyline, Max goes to a special school (the school storyline is ridiculous - lots of things on Parenthood are ridiculous - Sarah writes a play and it's going to be produced on Broadway, Kristina ran for Mayor of San Fransisco!  Insane. ) with kids who have behavior problems but DEFINITELY they are not all on the autism spectrum, I have no idea what is supposed to be wrong with these other kids - not wrong but you know what I mean.  Maybe they have learning problems and that's why it's not clear from just seeing them in school situations, social situations.  Anyway, so Max has been liking this girl and they've been friends, she has spent an inordinate amount of time at their house because her parents are away all the time, working, and last week he declared his love for her because he saw her making out with some other boy.  Or maybe it was just a coincidence, I can't remember.  Anyway, he made a big spreadsheet about why she should like him more than the other dude, it was desperate and sad and kind of funny, too, because he made some good points.  
So I watched the show and I didn't get any of it, really.  I mean, he was upsetting this girl a lot.  The girl went to Kristina (the headmaster of this screwed up school, which they seriously created in like five weeks) to ask to be taken off a project with Max and Kristina said no, it will be fine, which was a TERRIBLE thing to do as a headmaster but - I mean, they are in a school for kids with behavior problems!  The point is to work through them, I thought, but I guess I could see how I'm wrong about that and it was just terrible of Kristina the Headmaster not to just find another partner for the girl.  But she didn't and then Max ended up really yelling at the girl and just - endlessly pushing her, he does not understand why she doesn't like him, it's not logical, etc., he was super annoying.  
But this review.  Not even of the show but of the PARENTING job that Kristina and Adam are doing, that really got me.  "she and Adam are doing such a lousy job of being Max's parents".  I mean, that just gets me right where I live.  I truly think ALL parents, even pretend ones, I guess, are doing the best they can and I mean, it's really, really hard to advocate for your son and it doesn't always work out.  I mean, they are doing a lousy job of being his parents?  Ouch.  And, his ongoing harassment of other kids in class?  He is being a jerk about this girl not liking him, yes, but good God - ongoing harassment of other kids?  At his school for kids with behavioral problems?  
I immediately start thinking of Anthony, about how he, like, wants to rub the beard of every man that he sees.  He doesn't talk so sometimes he just walks up and if we are not fast enough to stop him, he'll rub the face of any bearded man.  Mostly we have not had bad experiences, with this, we jump in, apologize, etc.  I am not a fan of the beard but I have to say, in my experience if a dude has a beard, that dude is pretty nice about it when some kid wants to rub it.  Anyway, I am off the subject, which is that I wonder do people think Anthony is harassing them? Attacking them, if he does that?  It honestly never occurred to me.  
So I read this review and I think man, he is way off track and I go to the comments and it turns out that everyone agrees with him and no one agrees with me.  And it made me really, really scared for Anthony.  His respite girlfriend told me that tonight, at the bounce house place where she took him, some little girl said to her, about Anthony, he's weird.  She told me she didn't know what to say to the girl, she didn't want to argue with some kid and she didn't want some mom to be mad at her for talking to her kid.  I said of course I don't expect her to say anything, I felt like just smiling was the right move.  Leave the freaking out on little kids to me, I told her, ha!  
I feel so dumb, like I'm just walking around thinking people are enlightened enough to know that just because some kid can't get off a subject, or gets unreasonably upset about something, that it doesn't mean that that person is dangerous, is a stalker is harassing someone.  The actor who plays Max is really, really good.  I can see Anthony and autistic traits in the character,  which I guess makes me feel for him more and I know for SURE it makes me feel for the parents, excuse me, the lousy parents.  
Here's some comments:

I know  it isn't related at all but with all of the recent news of Bill Cosby and the current Rolling Stone feature on assaults on campus, specifically UVA, the Max stuff really upset me. This is aggressive, stalker, physical, unpleasant behavior by a boy who is only moderately controllable. Maybe Max is too good of an actor but the whole profiling of violent kids, this type of behavior seems way too reminiscent.... 

We diss on Kristina and Adam because we want to believe they have the capacity for growth and they undermine it everytime when they fly off the handle whenever Max loses his temper 

This really gets me, and explains a lot to me.  I mean, Max does lose his temper but it's not the same as a neurotypical person losing his temper, being a baby or, like, not getting his way, it's just not!  I mean, they are called meltdowns because they are different than tantrums, different than losing your temper.  I think about the scene in Rainman (I know.  I mean, I know that that doesn't represent all autistic people but I think it might help me illustrate my point) when Raymond freaks out and starts screaming, really screaming and yelling and I remember seeing that movie a long time ago and I never thought, wow, Dustin Hoffman is really harassing Tom Cruise here.  In the scene where Raymond is listening to Tom Cruise and his girlfriend doing it and mimicking her, I didn't think what's up, perv?  Who would?  Are there people who thing that?  I mean, I guess there are, because the behavior of an autistic CHILD on this show reminded a commenter of the GANG RAPISTS at UVA.  
So I don't know.  I know a lot of parents of kids with autism, and just parents and just people who I know watch and like/don't like but still watch Parenthood.  What do you think?  Did Max seem scary?  Do you think Kristina and Adam seem like they are doing a LOUSY job with him?  I am honestly interested, I feel like I don't know which way is up anymore.  Even more than usual, ha!

Sunday, November 02, 2014


Anthony has been going to Little Star 2.5 days a week and to his regular school 2.5 days a week for a few weeks now and it, like every other thing is going okay now, although I was worried about it in the beginning.  We couldn't do it this way without Little Star, because his therapist takes him to his school on Wednesday afternoons.  If she didn't, I'd take Maria and Veronica to school and then Mike would take Anthony to LS, then I'd take Felicity to her preschool at 9:00 and then at 12 I'd go get Anthony and take him to LS and then at 2:00 go get Felicity and then at 3:15 get the girls and then be home by 3:50 to meet the busy, which is *crazy town*, so I'm glad I don't have to do it.

I think he likes being back at Little Star so much, so it's good for now.  I'm guessing that what that means is that it will be a matter of months before the insurance company decides that he doesn't even get 20 hours a week anymore and then the shit will really hit the fan.  We are already struggling so much with his behavior, it is definitely crazier and worse since he started at his school, getting his free and public education, but what can we do?  I am really beat down at this point, just hoping for the best and expecting the worst.

Mike is at church, we have decided to stop going all together.  Anthony just has too hard a time going and sitting still AND being quiet for one hour.  The way that he is noisy is SO noisy that there's no way that it's not disturbing to everyone around him.  Maybe someday we will be able to go again but today is not that day.  Maybe if we get a dog, maybe if Anthony has a turnaround, maybe if his sisters EVER grow the hell up so they can be counted on for good behavior.

He has been having a lot of fun with his respite care.  Yesterday he went to the Rhythm Discovery Center downtown, where he made a drum (broken today already by Felicity) and played the drums for a long time.  Christina, his respite girlfriend, said that they have drum circle type thing every Saturday and that he did pretty good, so maybe he can go again.  Today he is doing a rare Sunday activity with her, she is making up some hours and the company where she works is doing a group outing, so that should be fun.  I mean, I feel like if you asked Anthony and he answered he would say he has a pretty good life, that he's pretty happy.  Sometimes he is unhappy and sometimes he is frustrated, but who isn't?  Overall, we are doing okay, and I am praying every day and night that we get that dog and that the insurance company doesn't mess with us for a while.  Keep the faith!