Irene Dunne was a nice upstanding gal who did right by her community, family, and faith – kind of a paragon who worked hard for charitable causes and said things worthy of thought and respect, like, “I drifted into acting and drifted out. Acting is not everything. Living is.”
Here’s the thing, I’m not particularly nice, and I’m certainly no paragon. I try to remember that every time the kid in my care is inattentive, absent-minded, or bone headed. Before I start shrieking I remember I’m the same charmer that lit a surreptitious cigarette in one of the upstairs bathrooms at sixteen, dropped the fuming thing on the toilet seat in a coughing fit, only to watch in horror as the paint lit and crackled and blistered… It was a house built in the 1920′s, I have no idea what kind of lacquer they used on the wooden seat, but it sure as hell was flammable. My father, instead of yelling at me or grounding me, coolly surveyed the damage, made sure the fire was out, and told me to detach the seat, scrape the paint, and refinish.
It was my first experience redoing furniture – but that’s not the point. The point is there was a lesson in his parenting style. The lesson was about practicality, problem solving, and patience. I don’t think I got it then (although I never smoked another cigarette) but I certainly get it now.