Just watched a sneak preview of the new ABC TV show, No Ordinary Family, about a family who discovers they each have a superpower after surviving a plane crash. And I must say, while I know a lot of people are into superheroes these days, I thought the best parts of the show were the ordinary moments. The moments that people can relate to, where they can say, yeah, I know someone like that, or wow, they act just like my family. Once the characters started catching bullets or running as fast as one, it wasn’t as “compelling”. But the teen daughter texting all the time, the family being so busy and running in ten different directions, the mom worried about her son’s grades, the dad’s dogged attempts to “make family memories like they used to”— I could relate to all that. The director, or writer, or lead actor Michael Chiklis, or whoever, obviously had gone through the same thing (or knew people who had) and they did a nice job of “painting ordinary”, creating scenes that you know are repeating themselves all across the country. It’s always nice for families to feel recognized, validated, and that we’re not alone.
I think a great coping skill is to have the ability to “see” the beauty in ordinary, sometimes nerve-wracking family moments in our own lives, while they’re taking place— snapping “mental photographs” of the moments that probably won’t make it into a scrapbook but probably should, because they are so much more of what defines a family than some re-touched Olan Mills portrait. Like the child who is always getting into the car half-dressed, hoping there’s an old pair of socks and a brush left on the backseat in order to finish the job… or the teenager still sleeping when she needs to be at school in 10 minutes, lying under a comforter that is covered in clothes and other “stuff”…or the husband who rearranges the furniture and lighting before every televised Dallas Cowboy game in order to create the perfect “lair” for optimum viewing. For me, it’s even better when there are a lot of ordinary things going on at the same time, under one roof. Like at our former house, when I’d be cooking dinner and Andy would be fixing a bathroom faucet and our girls would be dancing in tutus to Broadway tunes in the living room and actually getting along. Or one recent evening, when Emmie was crying monster tears on her homework at the kitchen table and loudly wailing about how she now hates her time-consuming gymnastics schedule but doesn’t want to quit, while Luke was barking at a neighbor’s cat through the front windows, and at the same time, Allison, studying next to Cleo in the dining room, was begging Andy to allow the use of an Ipod as part of a homework assignment.
Extremely frustrated with the whole scene, he sighed and said, “This family has serious problems” before heading to bed. I just smiled, kissed away Emmie’s tears, and finished taking another mental snapshot, a very “ordinary” one.