107 days… and counting…Raymond Barone

You wouldn’t think Everybody Loves Raymond would be a good source of parenting wisdom. I was most fortunate, however, in catching this morning’s episode (sadly I normally have to leave the house too early to partake of this wonderfully witty slice of American sitcommery), which was… as it happens… just that! A good source of parenting wisdom, that is.

It started with the eponymous Raymond boasting to his friends that he could get away with calling his wife anything, as long as he did so in a cutesy tone of voice… his friends then challenged him to see how far he could push it… he got away with “Blubberhead” and “Fatlegs”… he almost got away with “Smelly Tramp”… almost, but not quite… This led to his wife telling him how immature he was, and how, for example, when their daughter had asked them how babies come about, he had left the room in a fit of sneezes. He didn’t take kindly to this accusation and said that he would, therefore, do “the sex talk” with his daughter… so he went into his daughter’s bedroom, armed with a handful of textbooks… started to tell her about when a man and a woman love each other, get married, decide to have a baby, etc… at which his daughter said…

“Yes, I know something happens… but why?”

Raymond left the room in a fit of sneezes.

This was shortly followed by members of Raymond’s family offering him advice of various levels of usefulness (ranging, one could say, from “totally useless” to “mostly useless”), which amounted to attempts at answering the question…

What is the meaning of life?

Raymond even left a message on the local priest’s ansaphone, asking him if he could get back to them a.s.a.p. with an answer to this question.

Ultimately, in the tradition of every American sitcom that has ever graced a TV screen (although, to its credit, less so with Everybody Loves Raymond), Raymond and his wife came up with an answer along the lines of “we are here to help each other,” which they promptly went up to expound to their daughter, who, it so happened, appeared to have forgotten all about the question and was rolling around on the floor laughing with her two younger brothers. Raymond + wife looked at each other and smiled in a…

That is the meaning of life

…kind of a way.


And, it has to be said, highly suggestive of the Zen philosophy that Zen cannot be spoken of. Therefore implying (I would say) that the meaning of life cannot be spoken of – it can only be experienced.

But how do you explain that to a child? Without, like, “speaking of it”? And suchlike?

I’ll come back to you on that one…