So I just watched the premier of the new NBC Sitcom Growing Up Fisher and was not only cracking up constantly but I was also moved instantly to write about it. The show is about a unique family, the Fisher family that goes through many ups and downs with marital problems and seemingly difficult life situations but are held together by the young boy Henry Fisher who loves to help his dad, the blind and always adventurous Mel Fisher. The fact that this show is based on a true story should legitimize its truthfulness enough but if not I will second the notion of credibility from first hand experience. From only one episode, I can already see the parallels in the show and my life. Maybe I should make the sequel, "Growing Up Scheidies".
As the season of this show goes forward I have decided to write a blog about each episode and include two facts about living with or in a blind world that the show depicts as well as my two favorite parts of the most recent episode. So without blabbering on any longer here I go with my recap of the premier.
1. Mel Checks in His Hotel: When Mel approaches the front dest to check into his hotel room, he is immediately told by the front desk person, “Sir, we have a policy of no pets.” Mel then asks, “well how about guide dogs?” The employee responds, “Absolutely not, we have a very strict no pet policy.” Being the lawyer that he is, Mel snaps right back with , “well I have a very strict not breaking the law policy,” and then proceeds to spout off the exact legislative code, section etc that states that service dogs must be allowed in public facilities. The next thing you know, Henry and Mel are in their room eating room service and even Elvis (the guide dog) has his own steak bone.
This may not have been as funny to others but to me it was hilarious and so accurate. You have the front desk guy that probably feels good about enforcing the rules and exercising his power and then Mel, the blind guy, who actually knows the rules and isn’t afraid to share them. The problem for the front desk guy is that he doesn’t fully know the rules and before he goes overboard in trying to enforce them he was probably told by a wiser mind to just check the guy in and comp him some room service.
The other reason that I thought it was so funny was that I have been in this exact situation too many times and have seen others be put in this situation too many times Its almost comedic at times that these types of incidents exist but they do. In fact, these types of situations can become almost regular occurrences in our lives.
2. Mel Cuts Down The Trees: There are two things that no sighted individual will trusts a blind guy with. sharp cutting devices and/or operating a vehicle. In the first episode, Mel does both. The show starts right off with Mel holding a chain saw. Just like I would do, Mel asks Henry two questions, “Where is the tree and where is the house?” He then told Henry to get over by the house until he shouted “Safe Zone”. Now, if you were watching this episode and this didn’t remind you of Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation than I don’t know what would. The back and forth questioning by family members on why Mel was wearing safety glasses, or even better yet, why he was allowed to cut down the trees in the first place was also funny. The fact of the matter is that he got the job done and that’s what counts.
1. The Blind Man’s Gonna Do What the Blind Man Wants to Do: Just like anyone in life, blind and visually impaired individuals don’t always want to be told what we should or should not do nor what we can or cannot do. Mel does a great job demonstrating this multiple times in this episode. Some things I wouldn’t recommend to every blind person but some I would. Those that know me know that there was a long time there that I would ride my bike on my own. Do you think I wasn’t told that I shouldn’t do that or didn’t have people praying for my safety daily for the things I did? Well, if your answer to that was no, than you should go look up the definition of wrong in the dictionary. Those that had known me longer knew me better. They knew, Aaron was gonna do what Aaron was gonna do when if came to questions whether I should do something based upon my lack of vision.
2. Children of Blind Parents Live for the Chance to Help: It is not of coincidence that in the show Henry feels empowered and enjoys the responsibility of helping out his father Mel. Hence, when Mel gets a guide dog, Henry feels as though he has been replaced and felt kind of unwanted. This is not a rarity that Henry enjoys taking on this role, many children of blind/VI individuals enjoy helping out and serving as a buddy to their mother or father. I see this all the time when I am surrounded by blind/VI and their families. In fact, I believe that these types of situations are good for children. It teaches them responsibility, communication skills and educates them quickly on how people with disabilities live. In Henry’s case it even taught him how to negotiate real estate. I mean, the kid negotiated a $12 hold on the apartment that he picked out for his dad. Now, if that isn’t your next rising star in business than I don’t know who is.
The show couldn’t have depicted the value that Henry placed on his guiding (buddy) role any better. When he thought he was being replaced by the new guide dog Elvis he was heartbroken. Mel noticed this and acted quickly to show Henry that Elvis would never be as valuable as him. In a dirty trick, he put Elvis in the pantry and pretended like the guide dog had run away. Right away, as they began the search mission he held out his hand and called on Henry to be his partner in crime. Then, in true Fisher family form Mel stood on the pegs of Henry’s bike and began yelling for Elvis as they rode down the street. Not the safest of options putting a 200lb man on the pegs of a kids bike with a 60lb kid on the front but just another day in the chaotic life of a blind person. :)