Monday, March 20, 2006

Lorelai's Rules for Parenting

As I ponder why I have to endure yet another repeat of the Gilmore Girls this week, I began thinking about what a seemingly perfect relationship Lorelai and her daughter, Rory share. For those of you unfamiliar with the show, you can get a recap here. As the old monkey has pointed out, this show represents the ultimate in chick-fantasy viewing - shopping references, food eaten without weight gained, and adoring males devoted to their women's every wish and command. (See, for example, the episode where Jackson obligingly undergoes a vasectomy at the behest of his wife, Sookie. Sookie, by the way, is the dream friend - cute, but not too beautifully threatening, funny, a great cook - willing to feed you on demand, and an all-round fun partner in crime.)

I enjoy the show because of its snappy dialogue, numerous pop-cultural references, and fabulous wardrobes. How Lorelai affords the clothes she wears on an inn-keeper's budget is a mystery, but I am willing to suspend doubt in the name of fashion. But one reason the show has won such praise, is its focus on the earnest struggle of the central character - Lorelai, to raise an intelligent and thoughtful daughter as a single parent.

Back to our world. Our monkey-on-the-way is a girl. I have wondered, from time to time, what it will be like raising a daughter, how it will be different than having a son, and what our relationship will be like over time. Unlike her relationship with Rory, Lorelai's relationship with her own mother is tenous and icy, which suggests why she has raised her daughter by departing so sharply from the chilly, upper-class, WASP Connecticut background of her girlhood. The irony of course, is in witnessing how alike Lorelai and her mother really are, depite her efforts to the contrary.

In the end, it seems Lorelai hasn't done half bad raising her daughter, notwithstanding the whole "taking a break from Yale" thing. I don't aspire to raise my daughter to be my best friend. Nor do I plan on attempting to be the cool mom role model that Lorelai is. I've never quite understood that style of parenting. But Lorelai does have some lessons to teach us. I've composed the following list of lessons I have learned from Lorelai:

1. To ensure that your child is accepted by Harvard, Princeton and Yale (Rory chose Yale), you must force them to put up a corkboard in their bedroom that shall forever be known as the IVY LEAGUE SHRINE. Prominently display paraphenalia from your 1st choice school there, such as banners, postcards, decals, sweatshirts, etc.

2. Encourage your child's reading habits by keeping them company. For example, when Rory is sitting on the living room couch reading Faust, Lorelai is always seen with a thought-provoking periodical in her hand, like InStyle or Lucky. Rory wound up at Yale, you know.

3. A healthy brain must be nurtured (Rory uses hers at Yale) through good nutrition and eating habits. Lorelai and Rory always start their day off with coffee and Pop Tarts, or coffee and pastries, or coffee and big greasy breakfast specials- courtesy of Luke's Diner. Never one to worry about such mundane things as cooking, Lorelai relies on the magnitude of take-out options that exist in their lovely little town, Star's Hollow. I'm truly amazed that they have such a bevy of selections to choose from. Having lived in Connecticut once upon a time, I recall very few, options back when I was flipping through the menus.

4. Coffee is the beverage that keeps the neurons firing. Drink a lot of it, and encourage your child to take up the habit early. From the early episodes I've seen, Rory was drinking it while still in high school. No wonder she's in Yale!

5. The key to being a well-rounded person is to balance brains and beauty. Lorelai makes sure that Rory is always dressed in the latest JCrew and Abercrombie fashions, and encourages her love of consumerism with constant references to shoes, Sephora, and handbags. It's amazing how Lorelai rejects the world of wealth and priviledge her parents offered her, but still maintains her champagne tastes on her beer budget. Regardless, Rory is one of the best-dressed residents of New Haven (she's an Eli, you know) I have ever seen.

6. And finally, maintain a sense of humor at all costs. That way, your child will never know whether you are laughing with them or at them. Even as you intrude on every aspect of your daughter's personal life, keep things light, and throw in lots of references to music, celebrity gossip, and current movies so she knows you are still young and hip enough to understand her. Television viewing is a prime opportunity to bond, and force your daughter to reveal every intimate detail of her day. Make sure you have her so thoroughly brainwashed and dependent on you, that her emotional health and psychological development are permanently stunted by the time she has reached adolescence. That way, she won't do anything without seeking your approval. Hell, she'll even be inviting you along on her dates - Rory does. And did I mention she goes to Yale?

While his mother fritters away her hours watching Gilmore Girls and blogging, the monkey develops his math skills the old-fashioned way.
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