Sunday, September 30, 2018

Watching Parks and Rec with Melissa

My daughter Melissa and I visited the dysfunctional, loveable, and quite hilarious inhabitants of the fictional city of Pawnee, Indiana nearly every night this past summer. I am talking, of course, about the sitcom Parks and Recreation. The brainchild of actress Amy Poehler, the show pokes fun at the hypocrisy of politics by looking through the satirical lens of the employees of the Pawnee Parks and Recreation department.

Although I had plenty of opportunities to watch the show during it's original run from 2009 to 2015, for some reason I never made the time.

Until the summer of 2018.

It started in May when Melissa returned home after completing her sophomore year of college in Washington, DC, located about three hours from our southern New Jersey home. She had been following the show on Netflix, and now begged her parents to join in on her new obsession.

My husband Bob objected. After all, watching a 20 minute sitcom would pull him away from his favorite pasttime: monitoring cable TV news. However, relentless objections and begging from his wife and daughter became too much for him to bear. He consented to allow us to watch one episode on his big screen TV.

Just one!

So we watched. And to my utter astonishment, I laughed, and laughed, and hungered for more.

But Bob would have no parts of it. He would not allow these mundane interuptions in his TV viewing schedule. Amid our protests he stomped up the stairs, only to return to the living room an hour later with an expression that rang of smug satisfaction.

Seems that Bob, in an effort to keep his family far, far away from his big screen TV, had been tinkering away in our bedroom where he sucessfully installed Netflix on our much smaller TV.

The result?

Melissa and I (along with the cat) could now snuggle on my comfy bed and watch Parks and Rec to our heart's content. And  watch and watch and watch we did. All throughout the summer, during those evening where plans with friends didn't occupy my cherub's time. We grabbed a snack and climbed the stairs, ready to binge three or four episodes of my new favorite show.

But the best part came when we'd had enough for one night, and I turned the TV to off. Melissa could have retreated to her own room, to her own bed, to get lost in a midst of texts with her own friends.

But she didn't.

She stayed in my bed. With me. To talk.

Indeed, throughout her young life, those precious moments that preceded sleep were always set aside for mother/daughter bonding. From reading stories to my pre-school pal, to battling the knots in my fifth grader's long hair, to solving the challenges of teenager angst, I treasured the closeness of our bedtime routine....a closeness I knew would come to an end.

Now, bedtime for me comes no later than 10 pm, while she is wide awake, some 200 miles away, spending time with her boyfriend, or her sorority, or on one of the mandatory homework projects that put a dent in her college fun.

Some nights before I turn off the light, I'll text her a heart, just to let her know she's in my thoughts. I usually don't have to wait too long to hear the familiar ping on my phone, indicating  her heart in return, letting me know I'm in her thoughts too.

It's not much, but it's enough. At least until winter break when we'll once again snuggle in my bed, turn on Parks and Recreation, and pick up where we left off.

Bedtime with Melissa has always been mommy/daughter time, until she went away to school. 



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