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Kermet Apio's Laugh Corner

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August 2006





In Wayne Harada’s Honolulu Advertiser column a few days ago there was this headline: “Supernanny Out To Tame Isle Keiki”. You know, for three years “Dog the Bounty Hunter” has been making Hawaiian adults look like inarticulate fugitive criminals, and now “Supernanny” will make the kids look like uncontrollable brats. Hawaii people sure are getting the short end of the reality television stick. Television is basically saying “Come visit Hawaii for the rainbows and beaches, but if you can, avoid the people.

For those of you who have never seen “Supernanny”, we have something in common. It is a show on ABC that features hellish kids and hopeless parents saved by an English woman who, I believe, hits the kids when the cameras are off. Her name is Jo Frost and with her glasses and 1970’s button-up outfits, she is a cross between Mary Tyler Moore and the woman from the Snapple commercials (for those of you under the age of 35, Google “Mary Tyler Moore” and enjoy the joke later).

I never had any interest in watching the show for two reasons. First, my wife and I have two kids and the last thing I want is for all of America to know that I have absolutely no control over the situation (which is, quite frankly, the truth.) Although if having uncontrollable kids could get me on that “Extreme Home Makeover” show, then I would feed them both Pixi-Sticks and Red Bull for two days before the audition. I know that may sound mean, but for a flat screen TV and pizza oven, it’s a small price to pay.

The second reason I don’t watch the “Supernanny” show is the fact that I already have a fantasy English nanny from my childhood who advocated spoonfuls of sugar and flying around with an umbrella. Fly around with an umbrella and show me dancing penguins, Ms. Frost, and we’ll talk (once again youngsters, Google “Mary Poppins”).

In a move that I find brilliant, the producers held the auditions at the Kahala Mall. I think that is the safest way to go. Rich kids can be bratty but they know they have something to lose. There were no auditions in Waianae. That episode of the show would end with the Supernanny duct taped to a fence post and covered in limu, and lucky for her Junior Boy was in Juvie.

Growing up in Hawaii, there were certain ways to keep rambunctious kids in line. Many of them are no longer legal. For instance, when a kid is refusing to leave a store, a parent could use the “We’re leaving with or without you” bluff. In the 70’s, you could actually leave the store to perpetrate the bluff, sometimes for three or four days. You would never do that today. You’d pause for a moment and daydream about it, but you wouldn’t do it.

Another strategy was the making up of Hawaiian spiritual lore. In Hawaii, many behaviors could bring on evil spirits but I believe my family made a few up as they went along. To this day I don’t cut fingernails or hair at night for fear that evil spirits may have, like myself, moved to Seattle for a lower cost of living. I wonder if the reason ancient Hawaiians said this was because without lights, a haircut is just a bad idea. My Mom used to tell me not to whistle at night because it summoned evil spirits. Then she would call the dogs in by whistling. So either Mom was making it up or evil can only hear the frequency of children’s voices. According to Dad, Maui the War God would get angry if kids were in the living room while the football game was on. Evil spirits sure are specific.

Often times when you acted up, you were dropped off at a relative’s house. My uncle ran a little boot camp for nieces and nephews. It started at 6:30 a.m. with him blasting a pipe organ while singing Paul Anka tunes. To this day when I hear “And I Love You So” I shudder in flashback. Then we would work. Hard. People would come by and ask “Why are those kids tarring your roof?”

“Because they need to learn to listen,” would be the reply. There’s such a fine line between discipline and child labor. In Uncle’s defense, once we were done there was always an amazing lunch waiting for us and we’d spend the rest of the day at the beach. FYI, jellyfish don’t like roof tar.

So I wish Jo Frost the best in her quest for a paid vacation. I don’t think I’ll watch the Hawaii episode, unless it’s the fence post/limu ending. I need to go. My four-year-old has the one-year-old in a headlock on the couch and is saying “The boy can fly!” I need to go get some sugar and an umbrella.

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