Sienna and “The Breakfast Club” in 2027

Sienna’s 2 year, 4 months old. She’s never step foot in a pre-school classroom. And yet last night I lay awake until 3 am thinking about Sienna’s high school experience because I had the great fortune to attend a 30th anniversary screening of what I consider to be arguably the most honest and accurate portrayals of HS life ever to grace the silver screen – The Breakfast Club – and I can’t wait to share it with my toddler daughter.


No I’m not gonna sit her down in front of the TV and show her an R-rated film filled with cursing and frank sexual conversations, but in 13 years when she’s entering the heightened social world of HS, you can bet I will because the late John Hughes’ brilliant dialogue and character development, his ability to capture and destroy these 5 HS archetypes was uncanny and stands the test of time.

Each iconic character – Molly Ringwald’s popular, “conceited” Claire; Judd Nelson’s brash, “anarchic” John; Emilio Estevez’s athletic, “strong” Andy; Anthony Michael Hall’s anxious, “nerdy” Brian; and Ally Sheedy’s silent, “screwed-up” Allison – proves to be unhappily lumped into a category by both adults and school life. Each feels better than at least one other club member because that’s how they’re supposed to feel. And each learns that they can break out of their prisons, that their comrades all share disdain for their sometimes bullying, sometimes ignorant parents and authority figures. Each learns they have flaws. Each learns they have strengths. Each learns the other is a real person and not a cardboard cutout.

Even the adults come off flawed as imperfect. Brian and Andy’s respective parents pressure their kids into being things they don’t want to be. Via his stories, John’s household is rife with abuse. Allison’s parents appear as shadows in car and completely ignore their daughter. Claire’s father equates money with love. Paul Gleason’s Principal Vernon tries to come off as all-powerful, but he’s jaded and frightened of where his world is leading. Only John Kapelas’ Carl the janitor feels sure of his position as unknowingly to the Club and Vernon, he’s the eyes and ears of the school, collecting and keeping all its secrets, sometimes for a price, yet being a custodian is not what he wanted to be.

I want Sienna to see this, to know that she doesn’t need to fit into HS cliques to be a person, to see that parents make mistakes and to understand that although I’ll have my own flaws, I’ll never an abusive father, I’ll never apply extreme pressure, I’ll always want to be in her life and help her feel safe in unsafe world. I want her to know that she can be herself, especially in high school, and that those that do succumb to stereotypes might have things going on in their lives that she doesn’t know about.

This applies to me as well. I have so much trouble remembering that I too often take things at face value. I see people with houses, fancy cars, and huge job statuses and immediately think they’re rich and happy. I see Facebook pictures and think people lead perfect lives. It’s just one terrible aspect of depression, your brain creating false worlds based on the smallest details.

So in 12-13 years I plan to sit down with Sienna and show her one of my favorite films. She’ll probably roll her eyes at watching a movie that will by then be over 40 years old, but if I do right by her, if I’m still the parent I strive to be, she’ll be receptive. And then she’ll watch the magic on the screen, fake realities shattered.

And she’ll know.

High school hasn’t changed all that much in 40 years.

Dad’s experienced the insane world that is high school. He’s a person – just like her – but with his own imperfections.

And no matter what, he’ll never forget about Sienna.

What other high school genre films do you feel fit the fold standard of The Breakfast Club?

Sharing Your Childhood Likes With Your Kid

I’ve been having a rough time blogging of late so I wanted to write something personal yet fun because despite all the turmoil I’ve gone through recently, I’m seriously enjoying Sienna’s current verbosity, her ability to mimic and the accompanying glee that comes with it.

I’ve already taught her plenty of animal sounds so if you see her and ask what a crow says, she’ll answer you with a smile and a loud, “CAAAAAAAW!” But what I’ve found even more enjoyable (and clearly more hilarious) is teaching her pop culture words and phrases from my childhood. In a way, I feel it further connects as Daddy and Sienna. Sure it might be utterly ridiculous and have no redeeming social value, but it absolutely feels special because I’m teaching her a part of myself and we both love it.

It all started when Sienna was just a few months old. She made these noises that reminded me of Gizmo from Gremlins so of course I immediately went out and got her very own Mogwai (not a real one, people…they don’t actually exist!):

Sienna and Gizmo copy

Now she asks for Gizmo when she goes to bed and I couldn’t be happier. She’ll also cheerfully squeak, “Bright light! Bright light!” when you ask her what Gizmo says. So cute!

I also find it cute that she loves the theme music to Alf. I’m not sure why she does, but I made sure to put it on her YouTube list (we don’t let her watch much television and instead created a playlist filled with classic Sesame Street and Muppet skits and songs as well as “Let It Go” and a bunch of other things which we let her view on occasion). She recognizes the first note from the theme and goes, “Alf!” and I grin like a fool.

Just like Daddy, she says, “D’oh!” when she drop something echoing this famous character:


If you ask her what this guy says, she yells, “Cobraaaaaaa!”


If asked what Peter Venkman says, she’ll repeat the famous Ghostbusters line, “He slimed me!” though it sounds more like, “‘limed me!” She’ll shout, “Yo Joe!” if you ask her what Roadblock says. She’s working on, “I’ll be back!” (complete with accent) when asked what Schwarzenneger says. She giggles and goes, “How you DOIN’!” if I ask her what Joey says (wrong emphasis, but still impressive, and though it might not be from my childhood, it’s still pretty funny. And once she gets those down I plan to teach her John McClane’s awesome “Yippee ki yay!” (sans the MF, of course).

She even starred in her own version of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan which you can see here:

Teaching Sienna this stuff is not for the benefit of others, though sometimes I can’t resist watching people crack up when she throws out an 80s reference. Teaching her these things along with numbers, letters, colors, songs, manners, names of things, etc., is a way for me to bond with my daughter and pass on some of my own loves. I also adopt her own as I taught her to say, “Drums! Drums!” when she sees the Muppets’ Animal because she gets excited whenever he comes on screen. Her other favorite is Beaker (who happens to be my chosen Muppet), but she picked up on his, “Mee mee mee!” without me having to do anything.

I tell you, there is nothing cuter than seeing a 2-year-old girl refer to Batman as “Na-na!” thanks to the 60s theme song unless it’s hearing her say, “Braaaiins!” when asked what a zombie says. I promise to make sure she knows that not only do the zombies on the bus not say, “Brains! Brains! Brains!” by the time she goes to school, but that she understands there are no zombies on the bus. One day she’ll be ready for zombies and Gremlins and Ghostbusters and G.I. Joe and hopefully we’ll sit, snuggled up, bowl of popcorn in our laps, and watch some of Daddy’s favorite things, but for now the objects will remain abstractions, the words and phrases echoes, just things for the two of us to laugh about and share. Oh, and Sienna, if you’re reading this, we need to keep working on your Chewbacca imitation.

So what am I missing? What other 80s references should Sienna spout? Something from The Breakfast Club since it’s celebrating its 30th anniversary (ugh!), right? Send me your suggestions!