My family, the reality show

Renee James Contributor
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This serves as our official notice that we have not signed a development deal to appear in a humorous reality show tentatively titled “The James Gang.”

Yes, we’d previously announced that we had explored options and signed a contract to participate in a show about our family’s wacky, zany antics, featuring three college-age sons. (Incredibly, unlike rescued teen sailor Abby Sunderland, who tried to circumnavigate the globe solo, not one of them has yet attempted to circumnavigate his own bedroom to rescue sweat socks and T-shirts in search of safe harbor in the hamper.)

But we haven’t actually signed a deal. Said we did, but we didn’t.

We also haven’t been filming in our home for the past four months. Our undocumented yet hilarious moments of youthful mayhem may have included but would not have been limited to:

The existence of a months-old and dutifully ignored speeding ticket – until a notice arrived in the mail informing us of the already missed out-of-state court date, the possibility of our son’s license being revoked, points being added to it and our insurance rates rising. Funny.

Or this: To hear him tell it, his car was nowhere near that No Parking zone. The night before he left town for pretty much the rest of the summer, he handed over a brand new ticket, courtesy of the City of Brotherly Love. Hilarious!

Couple this droll entertainment with the almost daily quirky revelations of two more sons. Things like:

The concept of nanotechnology. Not only did I learn how it works, I was fascinated with stories about what it might accomplish in the coming years, including brain implants that would allow one person to literally “feel” another person’s emotions.

Yes, he’d heard of “selective attention,” and knew all about the gorilla on the basketball court perception test I’d just read about in a magazine article. “Isn’t that, like, ten years old? Hasn’t everyone heard about that?” Everyone but me, I guess.

Sure, he would explain the Schrödinger’s Cat thing one more time. And the double slit experiment about shooting matter through a slit, or through two slits, or something like that. Although that one still doesn’t make sense.

All this, as I try very hard to match up socks from the dryer, or scribble to find a pen that works. Cue the laugh track.

If our story sounds familiar, it’s because it’s a little like Abby Sunderland and her dad, Lawrence, and Adventures in Sunderland, the reality TV show based on their family’s “adventurous spirit.” (Zac Sunderland held the world record as the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe, a feat challenged – unsuccessfully – by his sister Abby, when her vessel encountered storms and was ultimately compromised in the Indian Ocean.) Sunderland announced the program and then rescinded his announcement.

About his daughter’s ill-fated trip: “I love the passion of sailing dearly, and this was about Abigail following her dream. She followed the criteria that I had set out, and met all the requirements to embark on this trip.” Abby began planning the journey when she was 13.

About the show itself, he stated, “We thought it might be a good idea if it was encouraging to kids to get out there and do things.” Then the story changed: this wasn’t about Abby’s trip or encouraging activity. Discussion about the show had begun more than a year old, based on Zac’s accomplishment, not his sister’s recent journey. Whatever. I think the 15-minute timer is buzzing.

Let’s get honest. Sunderland admitted he was “broke” and it’s obvious the family would gain from participating in a reality show about their ‘daredevil’ kids. (How adventurous Mrs. Sunderland would be – pregnant with their eighth child – remained undisclosed.)

The good news: Abby seems positive. Like everyone who draws breath, she’s contemplating a book. In The New York Post, she called her adventure “the best thing I have ever done or been through and I don’t ever want to forget all the great times . . . or the bad ones for that matter.” That’s super.

Bottom line: Most parents believe their own kids are pretty amazing, each in their own way. So here’s more good news: Unlike the Sunderland’s (or the Gosselin’s or the Heene’s), few of us believe that makes them a reality show.

Renee James writes social commentary and keeps track of the things that mystify her on her blog: It’s not me, it’s you, found at reneeaj.blogspot.com. Her email address is raaj3@msn.com.