Mine is the generation* that grew up air-punching along with Judd Nelson as Simple Minds played in the background and the film’s final words empowered us all to be more than what the world wanted to see in us.
Imagine if John Hughes were alive to make a sequel today … it’s 30 years later and it’s the reunion of The Breakfast Club. Molly Ringwald is a “free-range mom,” Judd Nelson is an “involved dad”, Ally Sheedy is a “helicopter mom”, Emilio Estevez is a “soccer dad”, and Anthony Michael Hall is a “work at home dad”. They spend the weekend together, sizing each other up and Instagraming selfies with hashtags like #reunion, #friends, #funnights, #hangout, and #itsbeentoolong.
They’d start off thinking that once again they had nothing in common and over two hours we’d watch them realize that they’re all more than these “convenient definitions” and that parenthood, no matter how you do it, is a pretty amazing common denominator.
Then they’d laugh about how little things had changed since they were busy living up to, and living down, their high school stereotypes. They’d hug, promise to friend each other on Facebook, and drive off into the sunset in their BMW SUVs while a Taylor Swift cover version of “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” played over the credits.
If you were a character in this “film”, what parenting stereotype would you be? If it were three years ago, one of mine would have been a “non-sporty mom”. That’s how I labeled myself when I first started writing for Active for Life. But I quickly realized that, while it was true I don’t have much experience with sports, it was just way too narrow and it was holding me back.
There’s so much more to me than whether or not I’m on an Ultimate Frisbee team, run marathons, or enjoy watching other people play football. There’s more to me than whether my kids play unsupervised, or not, or if they are at the hockey rink five days a week. There’s more to me than whether I work at home or in an office. There’s more to me than whether I cook dinner or order pizza.
And I’ve realized that defining myself by what I can’t do or what I don’t like is actually a pretty negative starting point, a limiting way to go through life, and not at all what I want to model for my kids. I want my kids to understand that being human means we’re always learning and evolving. We’re never really stuck being one thing.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could all agree to stop micro-labelling ourselves and each other? And while we’re at it we could also stop defining ourselves based on our kids’ interests and activities because, frankly, ew.
If we learned anything from The Breakfast Club it’s to look beyond appearances and see the people behind the label. Let’s take it a step further, let’s lose the label all together.
To be a real role model, we need to have our own distinct identities that aren’t attached to what someone else likes to do, aren’t hitched on something that’s perceived as missing, and that keep growing and changing as we do.
I like to think that would be the real take away for our aging Breakfast Club heroes and that they might feel it’s a lesson worthy of one final air punch.
*If you’re too young for The Breakfast Club but you’ve seen Pitch Perfect then you’re pretty much in the loop.