Win a Winner!
Writers & Photographers
Berlitz Summer Camp
Jane Crockett has written for the Huffington Post and Underwired magazine.
by Jane Crockett
Capitalizing on what seems to be the never-ending popularity of reality TV shows (who knew salons could be such interesting places?), there is one reality we still need to explore and reward: Parenthood. Why does each season pass without having crowned a new Top Parent? Television execs, here’s the pitch …
PITCH: Parents will compete for top prizes as they showcase their unique and effective parenting techniques, with the ultimate reward being the title of Top Parent. In addition, the winner will receive an all-inclusive, one-week stay anywhere children are not welcome.
PARTICIPANTS: Contestants will represent all familial situations. There will be no requirements (e.g. number of children, amount of parenting experience). Potential participants will be interviewed to determine whether they can still formulate coherent sentences, or even phrases – or at minimum, universal facial expressions.
JUDGES: Celebrity judges will represent acclaimed experts in the field of parenting, including those psychologists and authors with no children and actresses who portray parents in entertainment. In an attempt to simulate reality, a cat and dog will also judge.
LOCATION: Each season, the show will film in a different location. An area will be chosen based on the challenge it presents to motherhood (i.e. Top Parent Juneau, Top Parent Rural America).
ACCOMMODATIONS: Participants will be housed at one residence. Again, mimicking reality, sleeping areas will be unassigned so participants drop and doze in any available spot. The kitchen will be half stocked and half cleaned. The residence will be conveniently located near the Top Parent studio laboratory, which features a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, playground and grocery store, in addition to other surprise sets/locales.
QUICKFIRE CHALLENGES (QF): The winner of simple challenges such as these will earn immunity in the weekly Elimination Challenge. Often, a token prize will be awarded (e.g. Target gift card, case of cheap wine, new pajamas).
• In a crowded public venue, participants gather around a toddler who has just picked her nose. Participants must figure out how to dispose of the offensive body waste without Kleenexes or napkins.
• In a crowded super-convenience store, participants accompany a preschooler who suddenly asks in a piercing voice, “Why do we have a black President?” There is a 60-second response time.
• Prior to pick-up from a playdate, participant’s toddler bites boss’ toddler, leaving large teeth marks. There is a 60-second response time.
• During church, elementary-age child repeatedly shrieks: “I hate you.” You have nothing to clench in your hands. Everyone has stopped talking to hear your response, including the pastor. There is a 60-second response time.
• Your 4th grader asks you a math question in front of your Ivy League graduate school friends. You do not know the answer. There is a 60-second response time.
• Hoping to control escalating costs associated with gymnastics (or any other sport), you ask athlete how long s/he will participate. “Oh, until I’m at the Olympics.” You have 30 seconds to deflate the dream without crushing athlete’s spirit.
• Your husband, and co-party planner, catches the flu at the last minute, leaving you stranded with 19 3rd-graders and two younger siblings at a three-hour birthday celebration. A thunderstorm also prevents you from using the outdoor space. There is a 45-minute planning window and hour execution time with said children.
• Your teenager refuses to get her driver’s license. You have five children in five different activities and live 20 miles from school. Simulate drop-off and pick-up using whatever resources you can secure in five minutes.
• Three children and two adults are simultaneously sick with highly contagious stomach flu. Only one bathroom is operable and a snowstorm prohibits any exit or entry to your house. You have 45 minutes to develop a plan for making it through the night and two hours to execute the plan in sample simulation.
• One tween ruins sibling’s masterfully rendered science project hours before due date. You have 30 minutes to plan and one hour to execute a new project while managing murderous relationship between siblings.
• In the pitch dark Top Parent laboratory home, contestants must silently negotiate toys, furniture, the dog, etc., to warm a bottle, start laundry load, find the phone charger, and find the missing soccer shoe. Contestants will be timed for quickest completion.
• Contestants must allow teen to teach her/him how to use newest technological gadget. There are 50 minutes to master the technology without alienating the teen.
• Without prior experience, each competitor will take a group of teenagers on a camping trip. Teenagers will be a diverse group and will not have access to cell phones, iPads, etc. Teens will complete satisfaction survey after trip to assess winner.
WINNER: Each episode will end with participants crowding around the judges table for the elimination ruling. The final three participants will compete for the title of Top Parent in a special episode. Each parent will live with and parent the children from another competitor for one week. The mother who makes the children actually yearn for their own parent will win the title while the runners-up will be somberly told: “Please pack your guilt and go home.”
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