Ah, Mayberry

November 3, 2006


Not too long ago, Dan bought a bargain DVD of The Andy Griffith Show for us to watch together on Family Movie Night. Tonight we watched an episode calledOpie and the Spoiled Kid,” in which a rotten little kid tries to teach Opie how to manipulate his parents by throwing well-rehearsed tantrums.

This was such a good episode for us to watch, especially Trevor. One of the first scenes is Opie working on cleaning out the garage. The spoiled kid, whom I’ll just call Brat, comes by on his new $70 bike that he got “just because” and starts telling Opie how he shouldn’t have to work for his allowance, and that instead of getting 25 cents a week, he ought to get at least 75 cents. I know that at least one of Trevor’s friends is like Brat, bragging about all of the expensive toys his divorced parents buy for him, and telling Trevor what harsh parents Dan and I are for (gasp!) actually expecting Trevor to contribute to the household by doing chores.

When that scene came up, I said, “Look, Trevor. It’s you and Stephan!” After a brief pause, he said, “Yeah, it is me and Stephan.”

Mayberry provides a glimpse into old fashioned code of ethics that has sadly gone by the wayside. At the end of this episode, Brat is told by Barney Fife to not ride his bicycle on the sidewalk. Brat almost immediately does so again. Andy and Barney impound the bike and give Brat a lecture about how he is supposed to mind. When Brat’s dad comes to the station to get the bike back, he defends his child with the “no harm, no foul” argument. You know the type — reasoning that if it didn’t hurt anyone, it’s no big deal.

(Good grief, everytime I hear someone say, “It’s no big deal,” it sets my teeth on edge. You can pretty much bet that whoever says that is doing something wrong while trying to convince you — and possibly even themselves — that the wrong thing is okay.)

Anyway, back to Mayberry. The dad had a real light bulb moment when Brat stood there screaming and carrying on and told Andy Taylor to put his dad in jail so he could get his bike back. Suddenly it dawned on him that his son was a brat. You know what? Kids aren’t born brats… we turn them into brats.

I truly believe that life nowadays is more complex than it was when I was a child. There are more stressors than ever before… and many parents are cracking under the pressure. They choose what’s easy (letting bad behavior slide) instead of what’s right (taking the time to talk to the child and/or mete out discipline). They want their child to be happy, but they’ve forgotten that happiness is not an entitlement.

When I saw Dr. Laura last month, one of the audience questions was what she thought the single biggest problem facing society was. She thought about it for a moment, and said that the biggest problem in society these days is this notion that we should do whatever makes us happy rather than fulfilling our obligations, meeting our commmitments, and doing what we should do. She pointed out (rather brilliantly, I think) that if you do what is right, the happiness will follow. But if you do what makes you happy, you won’t really ever be content. Well said!

As for me, I’m a Mayberry Mom, and proud of it.

One comment

  1. […] About the Mama Ah, Mayberry […]

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