Tag Archives: david tennant

The Night…err…Day of the Doctor

Slate on the Screen just before the movie
Slate on the Screen just before the movie

On Sunday I posted a piece on Rene Syler’s Good Enough Mother about how watching the TV show Dr. Who brings my family together.  You can click on that link if you want to have the details of why.

But tonight, my dear readers, was the night.

You see, normally I don’t get snowed by my kids’ whining or crying or complaining that they don’t get the same things as other kids or that they desperately want to do something.  I don’t even fall for the “I’ll clean the house/bathroom/kitchen/do laundry/clean my room begging, either.  I’ve been parenting alone for too long to fall for that.  If anything, their rooms will look worse and I’ll be lucky to keep the areas of the house where everyone sits in working order.

But when my son, Sam, who never complains much, was talking to the woman cutting his hair a couple weeks ago I overheard him.  He didn’t think I could hear him out in the front lobby, but I did.  He talked, incessantly, about Doctor Who, the 50th Anniversary special (which actually aired – for free – on Saturday November 23rd) and how the theaters were showing it only on Monday, November 25th, and it was in 3D!  That was followed by “but my Dad says we can’t go.  We can still watch it on TV, though.”

Waiting for The Day of the Doctor
Waiting for The Day of the Doctor

So I caved in.  No, it wasn’t from embarrassment, nor was it feeling sorry for Sam.  No, the reason I caved?  The fact that he wasn’t complaining.  The lack of complaint or expectation that I’d take him to the theater just made me make meals with a few more things in the freezer or stretch the grocery budget just a bit so that I could take all three of them to the theater to see it.  I had them have sandwiches for dinner and raced home from work so we could get to the theater in time to print the tickets I’d bought in advance.

2013-11-25 18.38.44When we arrived . . . there was a line out the door.  Literally.  I figured on a Monday night, two days after the show aired on BBC America, there’d be hardly anyone at the theater.  I was so totally wrong.  The first two showings (of four, they had to add 3 more) were sold out when I got there.  (Thank God for Fandango advance tickets)  We saw every permutation of every character from the show.  My sons looked around in wonder, telling me they should have dressed up . . . because nearly everyone was.

2013-11-25 19.00.57The funniest part – and this is truly funny – the theater posted a bunch of security around the people in the queue waiting to go into their respective theaters.  Security.  Like a bunch of geeky people (myself included, not delusional here) dressed up like a silly madman in a blue box standing in line were a riot concern.  “None of us has the strength to hurt anyone,” my daughter Hannah commented.  “It’s not like the crowd that might come to a Metallica movie.”

The theater was packed.  The movie had trivia in front of it.  (Did you know Ridley Scott was originally tasked with creating the Daleks and was moved to a different department at the last minute?!)  A special introduction by a Who alien creature and then by both Matt Smith and David Tennant – stars of the movie – with a cameo by John Hurt.  There was a showing of a making-of after the movie.

And my kids sat, in stunned and abject awe, staring at the 3D screen with their show, larger than life.  When a brief glimpse of the next man to play the Doctor appeared . . . then the eccentric and elusive actor who played the 4th incarnation . . . my kids burst into applause and laughter.  They all knew who they were.

My daughter and her friends
My daughter and her friends

It’s not often I can sit with my kids at an event – and that’s what this was, an event – and be enraptured not by the event itself but by the enthusiasm and happiness of my kids.  But that’s what this was.  Happiness, there’s not other word for it.

2013-11-25 19.19.28Sheer joy – and that’s a word I don’t often use, joy.  But staying up past their bedtime, having Icees, and watching their favorite show, a night of the Doctor (okay, Day of, there was a prequel called “night”.  Sue me)

There was nothing quite so joyous.

The Brutality and the Birthdays . . .

My family, taken by Amy Renz's Hunny Bee Photography

My daughter and I separately watched movies that brought us down in the last week.  Hers was Phantom of the Opera, which I could have easily told her wasn’t going to end well for the hopeless romantic she is.  (Broadway lovers out there, please for the love of God don’t email telling me how “Phantom” truly is hopelessly romantic.  I get it.  But my daughter is the happy-ending kind of hopeless romantic.  For Phantom, that ain’t it.  Sorry.)  Mine was something I probably should have left well enough alone because I knew it was going to hit me hard.

I should also point out that, while I think from the looks of the ads and the trailers that the movie “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” is superbly acted and brilliantly accurate in how a kid may deal with losing a parent, I just couldn’t bring myself to watch it.  I still believe there’s likely no way I’ll ever watch the movie because I know the parent’s going to die and I know the kids will be upset and I just don’t want to watch that.  I’ve already lived it.

No, my piece was a BBC production (no, I’m not a TV snob, I just wanted to watch it.) called “Single Father.”  To be honest, I’d actually wanted to watch long before I lost my wife, it had come out in 2010 and run in England only.  I had seen all kinds of articles and reviews on it, how it was brilliantly written by someone who hadn’t suffered loss but seemed to get it right.  How it was acted so well that the acting made up for inadequacies in the story and the writing.  I wanted to see it for all the talk it was getting.  When I found the DVD on a website eons ago I decided to buy it.  I was depressed, sad, and hurt from loss and thought there was nothing better than to force myself to wallow in it, alone, without the kids so they didn’t see me doing it.  To get it all out so that I could avoid welling up and feeling the waves of grief and depression at the most random times during the day.

But like all things from other countries, they have to get shipped from their respective countries.  Mine obviously came from England.  As a result, it took a long time to get here and when I got it I wasn’t sure I should watch it.

But I’m nothing if not a glutton for punishment and I’ve never been accused of being very smart.  I turned on the movie, whose lead character happened to be a former Doctor Who – David Tennant.  I wasn’t sure how I’d react to a sci-fi star as this major character, but he was brilliant.  Which brings me to the brutality.  The main character, Tennant’s character, is named David.  Dave.  Didn’t make things easier for me.  Dave’s wife dies in a brutal car accident where a cop car hits her on her bicycle.  Cop’s fault, she dies immediately, and says “I love you” right before the end.  The story leaves my parallels there, as it’s not a hospital scene and Dave falls in love with his wife’s best friend just a couple months after losing her.  Guess I’m lucky Andrea’s best friends weren’t nearby my house, might have been all kinds of crazy confused salacious activities going on around me!  I think it’s the lack of parallels that helped me to watch it.

But the one thing that the writer put into Tennant’s mouth, the adjective I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of and used before he cries in a moment of grief, breaking down, tears, messed up.  “It’s just brutal” he says.  “It’s brutal doing this without her!”

Brutal is a perfect adjective.  Yes, I had to perform the activities of daily life long before my wife passed away, but doing them alone along with everything else is just that: brutal.  Easter was this last weekend, and I was so proud of myself that I’d gotten everything done for Easter that I hadn’t realized how quickly my sons’ birthday was approaching.  That’s this Saturday.  The tax refund they said was coming in 7 business days is now coming on the 24th – ten days after their birthday – making my financial situation precarious.  The boys’ friends all had big parties that had all the classmates attend.  I can’t do that, I don’t know how I’m going to get them presents, if I’m being honest.  I’m making the cake (which I can do, other than Freeport Bakery, I can outdo Costco any day!) and the frosting from scratch.  I’m hoping to get the family, aunt, uncle, grandparents, cousins in the park near our house so they can play.  My middle daughter wants to get them a present and I am counting the change in my pocket.  Added to that is the fact that I had no babysitter on Thursday so I have hired a kid down the street who my oldest daughter is friends with.  I have to pay her as well.  I watch the numbers to the left of my bank account’s balance reduce by a digit with each expenditure and I’m feeling the brutality again.

So brutal is a perfect adjective.  No, I’m no longer trying to figure out whether or not I can pay the house payment or anything, but since the rent has come out and the payment for other bills, and the tuition the school gets along with the Extended Day costs for them being at school past the school day, I’m in a world of hurt.  The tax refund would make me even again but I have to wait.  I can’t tell the boys “you’ll get your presents in ten days”.  So I do the financial juggle.  I lean with my head on the kitchen table frustrated.  I think about what I can get them with what I have and how to stretch what I already have for dinners and everything in the house.

These are the things that I face alone.  It’s painful to miss my wife, but it’s also brutal that I have to face these things alone, no second brain helping to push ideas for birthday.  No supportive hands on my back to calm me when I feel overwhelmed.  Sure, people say “she’s up there watching and helping you” but up there doesn’t help or comfort me.  It really doesn’t.  It actually tells me she’s happy and calm and peaceful and I’m left to pick up the pieces and it’s . . . yeah, I’ll use the adjective again . . . it’s brutal.  It really is.

Unlike the character in the movie, I knew I had to do it.  There was no choice, they all need me to be their Dad and not break down and lose it.  It’s very different for my kids who now miss their Mom and simply miss them.  They feel loss, they worry about abandonment, but they didn’t have the mental and emotional backing that I had from her.  Sure, they had their Mom’s emotional and physical help, but they’re kids.  They also fought that backing.  I, on the other hand, wish it wasn’t gone.

Birthdays aren’t brutal.  It’s the buildup and daily life that’s brutal.  It was brutal before she left, but with nobody to help take some of the blows now, all I can do is reflect at the end of the day and take a deep breath and prepare myself for tomorrow.

It’s still one day at a time, and though it’s brutal, I continue to take the beating.  I don’t really have any other choice.