April 26, 2010

Long live Nanny Jo Jo

I don't usually watch programmes like this but there was nothing much else on. I'm glad I did. Tonight's series was a little different. Two deaf parents with three kids under ten and an eighteen year old from a previous marriage (mother's side). Aside from the usual blended family chaos I wondered how much more harder it would be for deaf parents.

Melissa, the eighteen year old, captured my heart from the onset. Trying to maintain school levels, holding down two jobs so she "pays her own way" while also having to be the parent to her three younger siblings was, quite frankly, overwhelming to watch let alone live. 

Now the usual routine with this programme is observation (day one), set the ground rules for change (day two), and then a follow up kind of reinforcement day - all in sixty minutes of filming, if you please. 

Day one saw the kids running riot. No surprises there, only this time there was the added thing to consider - deafness. What do you do if your kids are having a tantrum and you're deaf? Now I know a lot of you mothers out there are going "And, so what's the problem? Gee, wish I never had to hear my kids kicking off" and you'd be forgiven for thinking that  - I've already pardoned myself so it seems only fair. However, this mother was heart broken. "My kids talk behind their hands. I have no idea what they're talking about. I read lips. They know this. What if they hate me?" 

Well it was right about then that I wanted to jump off the couch and give those kids a "what's for" when I thought... let's leave it to Jo Jo yeah? 

Enter Melissa. She's eighteen years old and the daughter of the mother, from a previous relationship. She signs and is hearing so, unfortunately, she had become the family's on-call 24/7 interpreter cause, well, the younger girls - all three of them - have decided that sign language sucks.

Now okay, my first instinct of said Melissa was - this is the spoiled, I don't care, I'm getting on with my life, typical, teenager - This view was slightly hampered by my dislike of another person with the same name who, quite frankly is a bitch but that's a whole new page, blog, website even, Internet - hell,  Cyberspace even! 

However, this unfortunate namesake (bless her cotton socks) holds her school grades, two jobs and the family together. For Pete's sake, that's more than what I do! The parents, on the other hand, are filmed, sitting at a table - dumping (their crap for all I care right about now) about how bad Melissa is, back chatting, disrespecting them, not helping out. Film roles and there is the teenage villain talking with the siblings, cooking their dinner, eating with them, disciplining them, putting them to bed. Oh that horrible horrible child!

"The kids listen to her, they respect her cause she's hearing," says the mother. 

"Deafness does not make you lesser a parent!" Nanny Jo barks - kind of wasted on deaf people but I am sure the interpreter put a wee emphasis on that - surely!

Start of day two filming: House rules. I watch as all three wee girls look on at Nanny Jo with gut-wrenching horror. You that? Look at Mum and dad when they're talking? Have respect for our belongings AND each other? ... oh, I dunno, that's a lot ya know.

As it turns out, none of the younger siblings have been taught sign language. Unsurprisingly, they've all resorted to the one or two signs that are universal and does not require the need to be deaf. Combating this, like any good sledgehammer should, Nanny Jo starts games for them to learn ASL (American Sign Language)  - because if you're going to disrespect your parents, it's probably best you get your message across loud and clear. 

Melissa joins in and it's all happy families - stuff for TV. (Puts tissues away)

Crap TV...heavy sigh.. gotta love it eh?


  1. Great writing, sis! A brilliant break-down of tonight's episode. Give or take the aside comment about another Melissa ;)

    Jo Frost rocks. I'd marry her.

  2. LMAO.. oh but if only you knew "that" Melissa - thanks for being so forgiving. Bless ya cotton socks.

  3. Considering Nanny Jo Frost has no children of her own, she is very clued into what is good for kids and their parents. This new series leaves me a bit let down though, it is almost like the whole thing is staged, with very over the top bad kids to start with, then miraculously they all start behaving so quickly. Maybe they condense a very long period of rehabilitation into that hour, maybe it is over dramatized in the American way, but it appears to me to be a bit false.


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