Nanny 911: Week One: Between the Rocks and a Hard Nanny.
Ok gang, put in your earplugs and get ready for some howling and whining. Yes, the kids on this show are loud and obnoxious, but the whining in question is coming from me. I’ve once again picked the short straw from the recapper’s pool.
This time it involves Nanny 911, the show that dresses up real Nannies in goofy outfits and sends them to try to teach parents the things that should have been written on all newborns naked butts when they are born. Things like “don’t’ let your 4 year old hit you in the head with a large plastic toy” you know, the really mystifying stuff that constitutes parenting.
Children really should come with an instruction book, or one of those nifty instructional videos that come with much less complicated gadgets (such as cars and computers) these days. Keanu Reeves’ character in Parenthood said: “You need a license to drive a car, but any idiot [or something similar, not particularly PG-13] can be a parent.” This show is setting out to prove that true, I fear. Oh sure, there are tons of self-help books on this subject, but apparently smothering a child to make sure he never in his life has a moment of discomfort is such a time consuming job that this Mom hasn’t had a moment to touch a book with more words per page than pictures in four long years.
Let’s Rock and Roll!
Let’s meet the family. We have Karen and Matt Rock, the parents who have been married for almost 10 years. They have an anniversary approaching, but their marriage isn’t Rock solid, as they haven’t shared a bed since the day their now four year old son Dylan was born. Dylan has a 2 ½ year old sister, Natalie, who is learning from her big brother how to shout and holler and hit and throw things around and be a general nuisance. Mom spends all day smothering her babies with love and the house is still absolute chaos, as they BOTH want 100% of Karen’s attention all the time. And why wouldn’t they (even though that is mathematically impossible, they don’t know math yet). She’s so nice. Dad hides at work. And why wouldn’t he. His house is a constant power-struggle. Dealing with that annoying guy who always wants to talk about sports at the water cooler is nothing compared to the completely out-of-control “child’s play” happening in the Rock house. We need help. Where are those Nannies?
Can You Hear What the Rocks Are Yelling?!?!?!?
We briefly see all four Nannies for the series, and upon viewing the videotape of the family, Head Nanny Lillian assigns experience Nanny Deborah to help. Deb’s strength is “teamwork” as apparently the Nannies all have a specialty, like so many superheroes, only they all wear the same parenting-crime-fighting outfit, and thankfully it isn’t lyrca and spandex based. Now I’m wondering what the other Nannies’ super-powers are and I’m hoping that levitation or perhaps communication with dolphins might be crucial in future episodes. SHAZAAM!!!! Yes, that line was for you, my friends who shared that hilarious train ride with me at FORTcon 2004. See what fun times you missed, folks.
What’s in the videotape? Well, it’s not dirty little secrets, like on Meet My Folks, but wow, I wish it were. Instead we see Dylan push around absolutely everyone in the house: lots of crying, screaming, kicking, hitting, throwing things, swear words. Dylan lands a solid kick squarely into his Dad’s crotch. Now I understand why there are only two Rock kids, as if watching that video wasn’t birth control in and of itself.
Dylan even breaks his mother’s heart multiple times on a daily basis by proclaiming at top volume “I DON’T LOVE YOU!” As Tina Turner would say, “What’s love gotta do, gotta do with it?” It’s time for Nanny Deb to meet the family and set up a plan to establish some order in this household. Mom’s “touchy – feely” approach just isn’t cutting it as much as she’d like.
Karen begs for help at the end of her video. It’s time for my light bulb joke. How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? One, but the light bulb has to want to change. [insert rim-shot here]
Ooooohhhhhh, Rock Me Mary Poppins
As Deb shows up, Dylan is running back and forth on the couch in his underwear. For those of you who haven’t suffered through my recaps before, I have a four year old daughter. Lil LG has never run across my sofa, let alone repeatedly as I yell for her to “please stop it.” Oh, and she wears clothing. Granted her favorite outfit is her “pink princess ballerina with butterfly wings” outfit, but she’s not wearing only her tighty whiteys (or rather, pink Disney Princess undies) when a camera crew pulls up.
The family meets Nanny Deb and she tells them that for the first day, she is just going to observe. The parents get nervous and think she’s going to point her finger of blame at them. Perhaps if she wasn’t wearing that intimidating cape . . .
Deb watches and wrinkles up her nose for a full day, takes notes, and concludes: Dylan is the adult in this relationship. This family is in utter chaos.” Mom defends her parenting “style” (if style can be used as noun for a situation that is so non-existent that it fails to meet the criteria of an abstract noun). Ohh, grammatical humor! That always kills in recaps. Unfortunately it is literal death, rather than the figurative, as in “you slay me.” Moving on . . . Mom says: “We don’t know what we’re doing, so we’re not doing anything.” If you fail to plan, you plan to fail, or something like that.
You Must Have Rocks For Brains.
The next morning, Nanny Deb lays down the Family Rules. I scribble down notes. Hey, she’s a trained professional. I think written rules would be helpful in my house too. Unfortunately I live with Lil LG (who, while quite bright, doesn’t read yet), and The Dog (who, while quite bright, oh who am I kidding, the dog is a blooming idiot).
Rock Family Rules:
1. Respect each other.
2. Every action has a consequence.
3. “I want!” doesn’t get.
4. Hands are not for hitting.
There were more rules introduced later in the episode that also bear mentioning:
5. Anything with wheels is an outside toy.
6. When the parents are happy, the kids are happy.
I like these rules. Perhaps I’ll print out my recap and post this page of it on my fridge. Yeah right. Then Lil LG will suddenly learn to read, and she’ll see my recap and realize that I write articles about reality tv shows for fun. Too risky.
You Can’t Win, Rock!
Deb starts showing Karen and Matt how she wants them to take control of the family by setting down rules and forcing the kids to follow them by *GASP* time-outs, and *SHRIEK* withholding attention from the children when they aren’t behaving in accordance with the family rules. Karen labels it as “abuse” and rushes in to “rescue” her kids from that dreaded hob-goblin of “feeling bad” that no child of hers will ever have to encounter, no matter how horrid they act.
This goes on for a very long time. Too long for my attention span. I’m not a sadist. I can’t write a blow-by-blow detailing lousy behavior by children. I think my recaps for these shows may end up quite brief. Too late for this one, though.
Here are the highlights: Dad catches on and tries to lay down the law and enforce the rules. He’s making actual progress, the kids are starting to calm down, and *WHOOOSH* Mom rushes in to rescue them, as they have been crying for FIVE WHOLE MINUTES. Ok, I guess I’m just insensitive to the delicate nature of these particular children, but won’t all kids cry if they think they’ll get what they want from crying? They’ve obviously learned that crying works with their Mom, and they play it to the hilt.
There is a slight respite from the yelling in screaming in the Rock household when the family goes in for family portraits to commemorate their 10 year wedding anniversary. Oh this isn’t a respite from the yelling, only a change in location. The kids are crying and screaming for no apparent reason other than the sheer joy of it (and the incredible feeling of power over their hapless parents, who are paying big money for this photo session and hoping to get just one good shot). The kids both start picking their noses as they realize this behavior is also particular annoying to their parents in this situation. Cute. Dylan grabs his mom’s face during a shot.
It is doubtful those unruly kids both looked decent (and refrained from grabbing each other or their parents) for any truly good shots, but if it’s any consolation to the Rocks, they will always have this TV episode to commemorate their family at this point in time. Better than any cheesy family picture when Dylan and Natalie want to bring home their first real girlfriend or boyfriend. Muhahahahaha.
Rock On, Nanny Deb!
Nanny Deb practically begs Karen to listen to her advice and back up Matt’s efforts to enforce the rules. Deb pulls Karen out of a room and tells her not to return and “rescue” the kids from the rules, but to use a business tone. Karen opts to ignore Deb, preferring to pander to Natalie’s desire to be treated like a baby (including arguing with Matt as to whether Karen should bow down to Natalie’s request to suck on a bottle) and Dylan’s chosen roll as leader of the pack. Vrrroooom, Vrrooooom.
It’s not all dismal. There are a number of breakthroughs that Nanny Deb points out:
1. Natalie learns that she doesn’t always get her way (and has the first time-out of her life, much to Mom’s chagrin and consternation.)
2. Dylan shows remorse for being disrespectful (by calling Deb a “butthead”).
3. Matt begins acting like an active parent (and tries to keep Dylan in his own room while Karen is supposed to sleep in her own room, albeit unsuccessfully).
4. Matt asserts his authority directly to the children (and doesn’t allow Natalie to put her feet on the kitchen table while they are eating dinner).
This actually causes Karen to defend Natalie’s feet on the dinner table, saying that she’s going to “choose her battles” rather than enforce a very simple and sanitary rule. Choosing is great when you actually make a choice, but Karen is yet to enforce any rules, especially not bedtime. Matt actually comes up with his own rule: No Feet Where We Eat. I like it! It’s catchy like, if the gloves don’t fit, free a murderer. There is some strange blue box with the logo blurred out sitting on the table. It looks like Diet Pepsi, but I’m hoping for Nanny Deb’s benefit that it was actually a huge box of Prozac.
5. Karen finally supports Matt’s role as parent (and instead of swooping in to rescue Natalie from a time out over the feet on the table ordeal, she goes in and tells Nat she needs to listen to Dad, and that Dad loves her).
Wow, I feel a lot better. Nanny Deb is noticing a lot of progress. But there is still one big problem in the Rock House. Sleeping Arrangements.
The Hand that Rocks the Cradle Also Sleeps in His Twin-Sized Bed, Apparently.
Nanny Deb announces that there is one more goal to accomplish.
Dylan must go to sleep:
1.) at 8:30
2.) in his own bed
3.) without Karen also sleeping in his bed at the same time.
Karen freaks out and saves Dylan the work of fighting the rules by doing it herself. Can’t he play with toys by himself at bedtime? Can’t I read him just three bedtime stories. Can’t I just stay in there with him until . . . until what, Karen, until he goes off to college?
I know that there are many advocate of the “family bed” but dear viewers, this is NOT a family bed. Natalie (who is the “baby” of the family) is nowhere in the picture. She apparently sleeps in her own room alone with no problems. I guess Natalie had to learn how to fall asleep in her own room alone, as there is no room for her in Dylan’s twin bed with Dylan and Mom.
According to Dad, Karen has slept with Dylan since the day of his birth. . . . something is amiss. Dad sleeps in the “master” bedroom, which some folks would use as a family bed, but no, that is just for Dad and Bo-Bo the Dog.
Nanny Deb lays down the law, and Karen is supposed to sleep in the master bedroom with Matt. And what about Bo-Bo the dog? He is supposed to sleep in *GASP* the dog bed. Wow, now we get a glare for the dog. A new threat emerges in the house. Bo-Bo is now adding Nanny Deb to his “must bite” list. It’s like a Christmas list, only meatier. Don’t mess with Bo-Bo. With a dog named Bo-Bo, this family must be American Idol fans. Or else classic clown fans. It’s hard to tell, really.
Dad tries hard to keep Dylan in his own room, but Mom is completely unable to control her desire to “comfort” Dylan at all costs. She spends THREE HOURS reading him his three bedtime stories. Matt tells her to knock it off already and he waits for her in the master bedroom. Karen walks in and out of Dylan’s room all night until she ends up falling asleep in there.
Parenting progress is made on many other fronts, but this sleeping arrangements stuggle continues for nights and nights. Matt is very frustrated, and Deb points out to Karen that Karen, not Dylan, is “caving in” and Karen needs to stick with the program and support Matt’s efforts for their bedtime arrangements. It’s the last night now. Does it work?
Mom and Dad, You Rock!
You betcha! This is the first episode, after all. Cynical viewers, you didn’t really think they’d end the first episode with a major indictment of our Nannies’ abilities, did you? There are no surprise endings on Fox reality shows, not for the Viewers anyway.
Nanny Deb shows up the next morning and Dylan very proudly tells her that he slept in his own room. Matt is happy. Karen is happy. Deb is satisfied with a job well done. Of course it’s not as satisfying as a steak well done . . . Bo-Bo looks up from his doggie bed and shoots Deb one more glare, confirming that not all is happy and light in the Rock house with these recent developments.
Nanny Deb summarizes that this week was hardest on Karen, as she had to relinquish a lot of the parenting decisions to Matt and letting go of control was very difficult for her. Deb’s pithy advice was to “Maintain.” Yes, just maintain control of the house, don’t hand it over to Dylan. And when he’s sixteen, Maintain possession of your car keys for as long as you can, Rock family.
Nanny Deb shows up for a surprise visit at Karen and Matt’s Tenth Anniversary Party. Things are going well. The kids are behaved and not torturing the guests or their parents. The Nannies have a gift. They unwrap a toy boat with a note that announces the whole family gets to go on a Caribbean cruise. Good news: There are nannies on board so Mom and Dad can enjoy some quiet time and they can also have some family time.
What a great idea. Everyone is happy. Except Bo-Bo. No dogs allowed on the cruise ship. Oh no, our boy Bo-Bo is heading to the kennel for week of yelping and whining, this time by other dogs instead of Dylan and Natalie. Don’t’ think Bo-Bo won’t have a bite-sandwich ready for Nanny Deb should she make any more surprise visits to the Rock house. Good luck, Rock Family. I know I was hard on Karen. I know all about editing. Karen, if you’re reading (and still reading), I feel for you, girl. My daughter ends up in my bed more often than I’d like too. But she’s sleeping in her own room now. And hopefully, so is Dylan.
Rock On, Wayne. Rock On, Garth. Rock On, to the Johnsons.
Join us next week when we meet the Johnsons and their seven daughters. Nanny Yvonne (yes, the young hot Nanny) will be stepping in to save the day for this family, so please tune in. If you can’t stand the whining, just read the recap. Oh, I meant the whining on the show, not in the recap.
Comments? Questions? Want to pick on the nuances of the episode? Well, don’t be silly, this is just a reality tv show and I’m just writing for an internet site. It’s not really that important, is it? Let’s focus on the important matter at hand, like making sure all those moms out there get enough sleep. However, if you’re so inclined, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org m if you’re dying to send me fan-mail.