Cloth or disposable. Bottle or breast. Public or private. Parents are faced with so many choices these days that it’s hard to know what to do. The more important question to ask yourself after viewing “The Geek in the Guck” than the one presented in my headline is why we make the choices we make for our children and what kind of parents are we really committed to being?
This is the question that has taken possession of Brennan this week — how she and Booth can provide a childhood for Christine that is better than the childhoods either of them experienced. Yes, you read that right. It’s not so much about the concrete choice between cloth and disposable, bottle and breast, or public and private. No, it’s about combating all of the physical, emotional, intellectual, and societal elements that inform her decision-making processes that result in her ultimate choices … just like it is for all of us. Like everything else in their lives, Brennan and Booth approach what is most important to them differently, but don’t let that fool you; their commitment is equally met.
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The Ying and the Yang of Parenting
Before making any decision about Christine (or anything, for that matter) Brennan makes brash statements to all those around her, conducts research, spends hours mulling over the options, then writes about her findings and, yes, even her feelings. She also discusses it with Booth, Angela, Cam, or anyone else whose opinion she values. So much of Brennan’s life was out of her control as a child. So much of Booth’s was as well. Her approach to guaranteeing the best for Christine is to attempt to control it.
At the crux of Brennan’s heartache over planning Christine’s education is her concern that she herself does not do well in unstructured environments. That is why she needs the counterbalance of Booth’s experience and approach to life.
Did you know that as a 747 flies from Chicago to New York City is spends 94% of its time off course? The only reason that plane delivers its precious cargo safely from O’Hare to JFK is that it’s path is constantly being corrected. Constantly. Brennan is the kind of pilot who wants to plan the whole route in advance. That’s the only way she feels confident that she will get from point A to point B.
Booth, on the other hand, would leave the runway, point the nose of the plane toward the east and know that eventually he would reach the land of Lady Liberty. He has that kind of confidence without having to have all the steps planned out. Booth has a highly developed intuition that has made him a successful adult. He has something that Brennan feels she lacks without the support of science and research. These differing perspectives are very important to both of them as the face their relationship, their parenting, and their crime-fighting.
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Does Brennan Believe that Private is Better Than Public?
Though it may take some digging to see past Brennan’s apparent pretentiousness about what she believes to be the inferior education delivered to the masses through a public education system, she is not so convinced that private is better for Christine. In a conversation with squintern Jessica Waller, Brennan refers to private schools competitive and elitist. That doesn’t sound flattering at all. What she does trust is structure and control which cannot help but be more prevalent when the adult to child ratio in a classroom is smaller.
As a woman who does her research she would also be aware, however, that public grade schools and high schools have more resources, a more diverse course offering when you get to middle and high school, much greater cultural diversity, and they pay their teachers better. Besides, as Booth so astutely pointed out, he and Brennan turned out more than okay.
So why does she seem to rail against the public school system? Because public systems failed Brennan when she was under their control. “I hated it,” Brennan says to Booth of her public education (and of the foster care system, though she doesn’t say this explicitly). “I had to make a way for myself when I was too young to do it. I want to give Christine more, I want her to have a better life than I did growing up.”
Wow. So, Brennan’s hopes and fears are an integral part of her decision-making process — and who is to say which influences are greater? Imaginary television characters get to play out our internal conflicts for all to see, part of the purpose being that people start talking about their own motivations and choices. If the drama is played out thoroughly and expertly (as it so very often is on FOX’s Bones), we are made to do some soul searching about why we do what we do and what impact that has on our children, those little people whose lives are more important than our own, and whose safety and health and future are so dependent upon the choices we make for them. Neither Brennan nor Booth had their own parents to provide this for them. The possibility that something could happen to Christine’s parents and leave her alone in the world cannot be far from Brennan’s mind.
Are There Any Guarantees of Getting the Best Education?
Big topic in my house. Big. As it was in the Bones-Booth household this week. The Spaniard (that’s what I call my main squeeze to whom I am legally and emotionally bound) and I both were blessed with parents who could afford to put us in parochial school. Today, it’s even more expensive and like so many of our contemporaries, our combined salaries are no where equal to that of our parents’ when they were our age.
I am concerned mostly with college education and have spent many hours researching how we can assure our tiny Spanish-Irish progeny get the kind of post secondary opportunities that will catapult them into their future with the greatest chance for success. I’m constantly pulled between the options of making lots of money for the college fund and spending precious time with them now when they most need me most. As a result of this struggle I’ve done a lot of poking around and discovered, through talking to high school teachers, college professors and leaders of industry from my corporate past, that the greatest indicator of a child’s educational success is two fold and has very little to do with how much you pay for high school or college credit hours.
Christine Will Determine Her Own Educational Success
Okay. Does anyone question whether or not little Christine Booth has some pretty fantastic genetic code that will make her a bright individual whether or not she eats her daily dose of vitamin C? You know she will study hard. And you know she will be curious as all get out. She’s already got an amazing vocabulary! The first indicator of student success is the quality of the student.
Parental Involvement is the Second Greatest Indicator of Student Success
True fact. You know Brennan will run through her vocabulary words and Booth will do everything in his power to make sure she gets to the zoo and goes camping and mountain climbing and learns about balance and skinning her knees in the most fun ways possible. While Brennan dissects carrion with Christine, Booth will make sure she gets enough merry-go-round rides and cotton candy for a life time. Both of these sides of the educational experience are equally important for a well-rounded kid.
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Brennan’s Anal Retentiveness Assures She Will Usually Beat Booth to the Punch
Okay, let’s talk about Brennan “letting” Booth make the final decision. That did not sit at all well with me when I first watched the breakfast scene. That is, until my brain had time to mull it over. By the time we got to the final scene, I recognized what was going on. Being as anal retentive and a much of a planner as Brennan is (remember the 300+ page Will she had?) she will always be thinking about these complicated choices in advance of Booth. She needs to do this to feel she’s making a good decision. She’s learning to recognize how a good decision feels, but she’s not quite there with trusting it. So – she will always seem to be the cart leading the Booth horse. Whoa.
I figured this out because it’s the same way in my house. The Spaniard is an astrophysicist. Yeah, tell me about it. Living with him is like living with an encyclopedia. A very, very anal encyclopedia. Like Brennan he is always flying around worrying about and researching all kinds of things ahead of me. It does me no good to get invested in his process. He has to go through it. It may be stressful to watch him go through all the angst every time some big choice comes our way and I find his analytical approach to be quite narrow minded at times, but I know that eventually he will come to a place where he is ready to discuss. At that point my input becomes crucial to him and he is ready to listen to what I have to say. By no means does he make all the decisions, but I am more than happy not to jump into the cart until my horse is ready. Booth is the same way. He will stand up to her if need be, but until he needs to, he knows she has to circle the wagons until they are in a nice tight ball.
Brennan May Not Always Trust Herself, But She Always Trusts Booth
Finally, it was abundantly clear at the end that Brennan evaluated all she could and then decided that Booth was better prepared to narrow down the choices for Christine’s school. She didn’t let him choose, even if it seemed that way. She recognized her own weakness and saw it as a detriment to her process. As she said to Angela in the park scene, she was worried that Christine needed an environment of freedom to counterbalance the structure Brennan knew she herself would impose at home when she, Brennan, was in charge. As a mother, that usually means most of the time the child is at home. So, bravo, Brennan, for deferring to your husband.
Next week Brennan and Booth attend a forensics convention. I wonder what juicy topic will present itself there for us to mull over?
Bones airs on Thursdays at 8pm on FOX.
(Images courtesy of FOX)