Parental Priorities

Parental Priorities
By Charles B. French

It can be so easy in our marriages to be overwhelmed by life, be it from our careers or our children. Sometimes parents need to take time for just themselves, recharge, and take a break from it all. A strong marriage leads to better child-rearing and a better life for everyone involved.
Reference Verses: 1 Corinthians 7:3-5

Characters: The Narrator, tells the story of  Barry and Susan, who meet, marry, have children, and become exhausted. Susan’s sister Janet is eventually forced to intervene.

Narrator: Once upon a time there was a young couple, Barry and Susan, very cute, and destined to be together. Of course, they couldn’t stand each other when they first met.

Barry and Susan walk onstage from opposite sides and meet in the middle.

Susan: I really don’t like you.

Barry: I don’t like you either.

Susan: You wear too much cologne.

Barry: You have too many unicorns.

Susan: You put ketchup on your scrambled eggs.

Barry: You don’t put ketchup on your scrambled eggs.

They turn around and walk back the way they came in a huff.

Narrator: It wasn’t love at first sight. Nor was it love at second sight. (The couple walks out again, see each other, make a face at each other.) In fact, they kept seeing each other and seeing each other and still, they did not like each other. (Barry and Susan keep crossing the stage as he’s talking and just giving each other dirty looks.) The one thing they both knew was that they’d never, ever date. Until one day they got stuck together in a long line to buy tickets for a revival of ‘Arsenic and Old Lace.’

They walk out onstage, reach the middle, and find it annoying they have to stand next to each other in line.

Barry: You like Cary Grant?

Susan: Who doesn’t?

Barry: I was in a production in High School.

Susan: Were you Mortimer?

Barry: One of the old ladies. It was an all-boy’s school.

They begin to talk more animatedly as the Narrator resumes.

Narrator: It was love at fortieth sight. They had so much in common. The same allergies. The same love of Mambo. Date after date they discovered they shared so much.

Barry: My mother hates you.

Susan: My father hates you.

Barry and Susan: Isn’t that great!

They walk offstage as the Narrator continues.

Narrator: The two lovebirds soon got married and began their life together. The one day they got some unexpected news.

They walk back onstage.

Susan: Guess who’s going to be a daddy?

Barry: Unless you know something you shouldn’t about the neighbors, I assume it’s me.

Susan: Aren’t you excited?

Barry: Right now I’m feeling shock, terror, horror, back to shock, and while there’s a little bit of excitement, it’s mostly shock and horror.

Susan: This is going to be great. We’re going to be parents. Wait, now I’m feeling shock and horror. We’re going to be parents! Aren’t you terrified?

Barry: Shock, horror, terror, yup, it’s all there.

Susan: What are we going to do?

They walk offstage, talking about their plans.

Narrator: Over the next nine months they figured out their plan, from baby-proofing the house to deciding on names. The latter lent to some heated arguments.

They walk back onstage.

Susan: No, we are not calling our son that!

Barry: It’s from the Bible.

Susan: Pontius Pilate is not a good name.

Barry: What about Sampson?

Susan: No.

Barry: Haggai?

Susan: No.

Barry: Solomon?

Susan: That’s it, you don’t get to pick.

Barry: Well what would you suggest?

Susan: Michael.

Barry: That sounds good.

They walk offstage.

Narrator: Nothing could prepare them for the experience of actually becoming parents. They’d read the books talk to everyone they could, but no one ever told them what it was really like, night after night, of being so exhausted they could drop but having to care for this brand new life.

They walk back onstage.

Susan: I don’t know how much more of this I can take.

Barry: How long until he’s out of the house?

Susan: Eighteen years. Of course, he has to learn to walk, first.

Barry: Fine, he learns to walk, turns eighteen, and then he’s gone.

Susan: You shouldn’t be so crabby.

Barry: I’m the one getting up at night to change him. What are you doing?

Susan: I gave birth to him.

Barry: What have you done since then?

Barry and Susan glare at each other. Eventually Barry walks out in a huff, leaving Susan onstage.

Narrator: Barry and Susan didn’t realize just how much they were drifting apart until Susan’s sister Janet came for a visit.

Janet enters and meets with Susan.

Janet: What’s the matter, sis?

Susan: I just don’t know what’s wrong. I’m stressed, things aren’t working out the way they used to, and I’m just not as happy.

Janet: Is Michael OK?

Susan: Michael’s great. I spend every waking hour with him. Something seems to be troubling him, though, but I don’t know what. I mean, I spend almost every moment with him. What can it be?

Janet: (thinks for a moment) How’s Barry?

Susan: I think he’s all right.

Janet: What do you mean you ‘think?’ Do you not know?

Susan: We don’t spend as much time with each other as we used to, but that’s what happens when you have a baby.

Janet: When was the last time it was just the two of you, where you were alone with him?

Susan: The car ride to the hospital when I gave birth.

Janet: Just as I thought.

Narrator: While Barry and Susan loved their son, devoted all their time to him, watching him grow, learn, and explore the world, they forgot about two very important people in their lives: each other. They fell for a common trap. Fortunately, Janet had a perfect solution.

Barry re-enters and joins Susan and Janet.

Janet: All right, you two. Hand over your baby and get out of here.

Barry: What?

Susan: Janet, what’s going on?

Janet: What’s the most important thing in your lives right now?

Barry and Susan: Michael!

Janet: What about the two of you?

Barry: What about us?

Janet: Listen, if you truly care for your son, the two of you need to be solid.

Susan: We are solid.

Janet: No, you’re not. I see you two bickering, fighting, barely able to be alone with each other. Yes, Michael is adorable and gives you something else to focus on, but eventually he stops being cute and learns to talk, and it’s only downhill from there. When that happens, the two of you need to be a united front, and for that, your relationship needs to be at its strongest.

Susan: But…

Janet: No buts. I’m the last stop before a full-fledged intervention. You haven’t left your child’s side once since he’s been born. You need some alone time right now. I’m taking the baby and sending you off for a night away. Go. (They don’t move.) GO! (They run offstage.)

Narrator: And so Barry and Susan had time away from Michael. Janet was right; such time alone did help them in both their marriage and in parenting. Soon they made it a monthly habit of spending quality time with each other.

Barry and Susan enter with armfuls of things for the baby. They hand the items to Janet.

Barry: Here’s the diapers.

Susan: Toys.

Barry: Formula.

Susan: Change of clothes.

Janet: These are my clothes.

Susan: He’s been spitting up a lot. Bye!

Janet: But…

Barry: No buts. This is for our marriage.

Susan: For the kids.

Barry and Susan: Bye!

Barry and Susan exit together, leaving a bewildered but pleased Janet onstage, who then walks off the other direction.

Narrator: Remember, babies may be cute now, but they soon will get older and become smart-alecs. You’ll need a solid relationship to handle it, so be sure to spend quality time together. You’ll recharge, regroup, and be ready to face the next mess they make. Keep that marriage strong; you’ll need it.
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Parental Priorities Copyright © 2011 Charles B. French. All Rights Reserved.

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