Quote of the Week

Take a shower, shine your shoes/ You got no time to lose/ You are young men you must be living/ So go now you are forgiven.
-The General, Dispatch

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Breakfast Club and Promises to My Future Self

In The Breakfast Club, there is one scene where the five of them are all sat in a circle, talking about their parents.  Emilio Estevez's character says we all our dissatisfied with our home lives, otherwise we would never leave.  And then Ally Sheedy's character says that we all become our parents, that it is inevitable.

When I first watched The Breakfast Club, this scene stuck with me.  It made me think.  Was I dissatisfied with my home life?  Was I going to end up like my parents?  I didn't know.  I thought maybe I would.  What did I know?  I was a kid.

I first watched The Breakfast Club probably when I was fourteen.  That was before everything in my life got hard. Fourteen was easy.  Some days when life is getting really tough, I sit down and wish for fourteen again.  But I know that fourteen is not where I want to be.  I want to be eighteen.  Twenty-one.  Older.  Older and away from here.

If I was offered the chance to go back in time, I would say no.  At the point of my life I am in right now, I just want to keep moving forward.  I don't want to regress, because that would mean that I would have to live it all again.  And who on Earth wants to do that?  Certainly not me.  Not after what I have had to go through to get here, to this point.  This is my stepping off point.  This is where I begin, and I don't have much of a choice.  I have to go forward from here.  Going back is not an option.

Fourteen year old me, watching The Breakfast Club and wondering about the future.  I wonder what she would think of me now.

I was blessed with having parents that loved me.  Not everyone is blessed with that, and I was.  Unfortunately, my parents are not perfect, as they are human beings.  And it hurts when you realize some of the people you love the most have failings, and big ones.  It is disconcerting, as they were who you looked up to and depended on for most of, if not your entire life.  You aren't expecting to get smacked in the face with reality.  And when it does, it is like a cold bucket of ice water down your shirt.  It is entirely unexpected and really unpleasant.

But when Ally Sheedy says that everyone becomes their parents, and all of the other characters look at her and say 'no way', I didn't realize how much I would feel like them.  Fourteen year old me would not even be able to comprehend how much I feel for these characters.  I am them.  And it is kind of scary to find that out about yourself, especially if you aren't looking for it.

Here is what I know for sure about myself: I will never be my parents.

I am promising myself that, and I am promising my kids that, if and when I have them.  I will not be my parents.  And I mean that, with all of my heart and soul.

It is not as if my family is - well, no, it is pretty dysfunctional.  I retract that statement.  But it is like that line from Anna Karenina: "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."  I believe that statement with my whole heart.  The worst thing is that the unhappiness in my family is internal, like a cancer, and it eats away at the bonds between us and I don't have the money for chemotherapy.

I know that I could do things to fix this, to fix the problem that plagues my family, but working at a problem only works when everyone wants to fix it.  Therein lies the rub, as not everyone wants to fix this, and not everyone can see this.  Not everyone wants to fix the broken pieces.  So they just lie there, festering, gaining strength and poisoning the rest, because only some people acknowledge them and we need everyone to help clean them up.

If there is one thing that I know in my life, it is that I will not be a yeller.  I will never yell at my kids.  Ever.  I have the capability.  I have quite a set of lungs.  But I will not yell.  Because if I ever start yelling, then I will end up like my parents and then Ally Sheedy is right and I really don't want her to be right.  I want to break the chain, have it end with me.  I want my kids to grow up and not yell at their kids, and let that path of peace continue.

I wish that telling people that they have a problem would fix them automatically.  Life would be so easy if you could do that.  But you can't.  Life is messy, and people are messy, and nothing is ever, ever easy.

Sometimes I wish it were.

I watched The Breakfast Club recently.  When it got to the part where they are all sat in a circle talking about their parents and Ally Sheedy says we become our parents, I started crying.

Because when all of the characters said they never would become their parents, I was saying the same thing.


  1. This was beautiful. Thank you for writing this. It's exactly what I think.

    I remember when Ally Sheedy says "when you grow up, your heart dies" (or something like that), and that was my favorite quote of The Breakfast Club, because I'm determined to not change and become a boring, robotic person that so many adults are.

    I hope everything is okay, Jen (or will be). Just know that we're here for you. :)

  2. This really was beautiful and quite profound. The Breakfast Club is a marvelous film, and I think it captures many of the universal insecurities and fears plaguing the modern teenager, but I also think it sometimes over-simplifies things.

    I don't know what's going on in your family and I have no idea what kind of people your parents are, but I do believe that you are the engineer of your own future and it's your decision how you live your life. Genetics are honestly over-rated. And I think it's really mature and amazing of you to be making this promise to yourself. People who end up like their parents don't take the time to stop, look around, and realize what's happening to them. If we take moments like this to slow down and think about things a little, it could happen.

    I do hope your family situation gets better. And I'm sorry your life sucks right now. :(

  3. It's kind of funny that this is also the scene which I remember from The Breakfast Club.
    I guess that a lot of teens worry about turning into their parents.
    I love that you made that promise and this post was beautiful.
    (I hope NaNoWriMo went okay!)


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