Saturday, March 12, 2011

the innocence of children

I have already mentioned several times how much we love The Dick Van Dyke Show.  Natalie even will ask, "Watch Dyke?"  The other day we watched an episode from the series titled "That's My Boy??"  For those unfamiliar with the show, this is one of its most well-known and well-remembered episodes.  It contains a scene which made the list of "100 Most Memorable TV Moments" put together by TV Land and TV Guide several years ago.

The story is told as a flashback.  Rob (Van Dyke's character) remembers the birth of his son Ritchie and the early days after bringing him home from the hospital.  Through a series of events, Rob becomes convinced that there has been a mix-up and he and his wife have brought home the wrong baby.  He believes that they have the baby of the Peters  family, and that the Peters likewise have baby boy Petrie.

Rob finally talks with Mr. Peters on the phone and arranges for him to come by the house.  Mr. and Mrs. Peters arrive at the Petrie house...and it turns out that they are an African-American couple.  The studio audience laughed so long at this big reveal that the film crew had to stop the cameras for a few minutes to let the commotion die down.  And even though this was the 1960s, it was not the black couple who were looking foolish in the scene; Rob was the one who appeared to be the dolt.  In fact, Mr. Peters is clearly depicted as the one with the upper hand: when Rob stammers, "Why didn't you tell me on the phone?" Mr. Peters retorts, "And miss the expression on your face?" 

And yes, there is a point to all this.  As I started with, we viewed this episode the other day.  Sarah thoroughly enjoyed the show...but she didn't get the punchline.  At all.  And the more I thought about it, the more completely cool I think this is. 

Sarah has noticed differences in skin color on occasion; once or twice she has even commented or asked questions about it.  But I realized after watching this episode with her that she had attached absolutely no significance whatsoever to it.  At the episode's end, she laughingly said, "Rob got the wrong baby!"  I told her that no, he just thought he did.  Her expression changed to one of frowning confusion.  It really hadn't occurred to her that the arrival of an African-American couple meant that a mix-up of the babies was nigh near impossible.  

How wonderfully color-blind my Sarah is.  I pray she always stays that way.