Saturday, December 16, 2006

All American Wife Swapping

If we’re laying our cards out on the table, I should tell you that my wife and I home school our children. Or more precisely, she home schools the kids, and I try not to muss it up. So far, so good. Our kids are intelligent, socially mature, inquisitive, verbal, well-bathed human beings. In other words, these aren’t the children your weird neighbor was home schooling circa 1976.

Having said that, we recognize that there is still a stereotype afloat regarding home schooling. But we also have many good friends who home school their children, and together, we are going to change the world’s perception – one well-adjusted, clothes-matching, non-snot-nosed home schooler at a time.

I bring this up because recently we received an email from ABC Television’s very special show, “Wife Swap,” asking if we would be interested in participating as a featured family on this program. If you are like me, you have never seen a single episode of this show, but you’re able to take one look at the show’s title and immediately conclude that this is nothing less than stellar, highbrow television at its reality best.

The email we received actually had the intestinal fortitude to suggest that this show was nothing short of a miracle, healing families from coast to coast. That really, the timer has been turned on, and your family is living on borrowed time without regularly tuning into this insightful, family-saving program. Here are a couple of lines from the email: The wives from these two families exchange husbands, children and lives (but not bedrooms) to discover just what it's like to live another woman's life. It's a mind-blowing experiment that often ends up changing their lives forever.

The reason we were contacted was because we are a home schooling family, and this is an upcoming theme on this series. The email said, “In addition to home schooling, tell us something about your family that you think would be interesting.”

Oh, they had thrown down the guantlet now. But, please. You're messing with the wrong guy. I knew exactly what they wanted to hear. It is obvious a show like this thrives on the 3 C's: Chaos, contention, and contractions.

“My wife and I have five children. We are also members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, so we are very religious. And my wife also births our children at home.”

The phone rang later that very same day. It was Michelle, with “Wife Swap,” and she was wondering if we could tell her a little more about ourselves. I think the first thing we shared with her at that point was that we weren’t really interested in going any further with this. She then told us it paid $20,000 for six days of filming. Which sounds like a lot of money, until you consider what you are allowing them to do. The show obviously moves along due in large part to the second C (contention). And to build contention, you need two families with completely different sets of values, beliefs, habits, hygiene, and affinity for bawdy stories. In other words, the Brady Bunch versus the Al & Peg Bundy Bunch.

We told Michelle she could pass our name along to the next level of screening, but that we would most likely not be interested. I get the heebie jeebies when I think of a complete stranger watching over my children all day. But even more terrifying…what if WE were the Bundys…and the other family was the Bradys? What if WE were the freaks?!