Most children grouse about homework, but some escalate those complaints into full-blown tantrums. When this happens, parents have several options.
They can attempt the Herculean feat of staying calm and forcing their offspring to do their homework, which is akin to teaching rutting stags to embrace cubism. “They can let go to school unprepared, sometimes some kids wouldn’t mind. Or they can react by having their own meltdowns, which doesn’t much. Or they can learn new ways to cope. Enter ABC’s latest feel-good reality programs, “Super-Manny” is airing Friday 14, 2008. The producers, who not surprisingly also “Super-Manny.” hope this special becomes a series.
Instance, Mike Ruggles, a burly, gravel- voiced developmental therapist from Chicago, is Manny. The misnomer automatically makes one think that this is a sitcom or that the therapist to the rescue is named Manuel.
“A manny is, of course, a relatively new phenomenon,” producer Nick Emmerson says. “it’s a male nanny, essentially. We had noticed over the past few years that more and more make nannies were working in what was traditionally a totally female world.”
Ruggles is a former preschool teacher and a developmental therapist with 18 years experience. By his own admissions, he is goofy, and kids respond to that. His goal is to educate parents.
“Sometimes parents just don’t get it,” he says. “They don’t understand a child’s development or understand the kid. Ask 10 questions about their favorite stuff. You can’t just assume everything in the world. And things busy. Its your job to slow it down. It is the hardest thing to do, to be a parent.”
That’s certainly the case in the Marko household in Temecula, Calif. Its clear from the show that Doug is unemployed and mom Tracy feels put upon. She balances 8 month Jacinda on her hip while cooking dinner. The middle girl, 4 yr old Alexa, and the baby appear easy.
The problem is Gwen, 7, who pitches a fit over homework or when her will is withdrawn. Doug responds with spankings and yelling.
On camera, Ruggles says he has a week to turn around the family. He has the older girls role play, and both want to be Mom, yelling at Dad for being unemployed. Gwen talks about how her father called her stupid. “its embarrassed to hear,” Doug says on camera.
Ruggles talks with the parents, tells them spanking doesn’t work and gives the family a pillow emblazoned with a “Whack !” that they are to hit whenever the need arises.
“Its weird to think people will see us, even our neighbors or family,” Doug Marko says, “But there’s been five seasons of “Super-Manny” on TV, and those people are still alive. It won’t kill anyone to be on TV.”
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