Even after all these years, the television show, Leave it to Beaver can still make me laugh out loud and make me beyond misty as it portrays the struggles of children trying to make sense of the world, and the struggles of parents trying to make sense of their children.
Take the episode, “Ward’s Problem” from Season 2, for example. Ward has promised Wally that he will take him fishing on Saturday. Ward has had to cancel on Wally for three Saturdays in a row and promises Wally that this time trip is on. Beaver, however, comes home with the news that there is a Father-Child picnic at the school on Saturday and creates “Ward’s problem.” June volunteers to go, but Beaver tells her, “No women are allowed, unless they’re a father.”
The boys are eating supper one night while their parents are out and it is then they realize that their father has promised both of them something he can’t deliver to one of them. Before they make this discovery, Wally, the ever-vigilant older brother tells Beaver, “Mom and Dad wouldn’t like you eatin’ with your face in your plate.”
“But they’re not here,” replies Beaver.
“Well, I’m here.”
“I’m not going to waste manners on you.”
Ward finally decides that the right thing to do is to go to Beaver’s picnic. He tells Wally that since Wally wants to be treated like a man now that he is in high school, it is he who will have to bear the disappointment.
“You know, Dad,” says Wally, “It always doesn’t work out so well, being treated like a man.”
If wiser words were ever uttered on a television show, I haven’t heard them.
Naturally, Ward and Beaver take first place in the three-legged race and Beaver excitedly shows his mom the trophy. “It’s solid gold plastic!”
At the end of the show, June gently chastises Ward for not telling Wally sooner that the fishing trip was delayed once more, to which Ward responds, “When a father has two sons and they’re both looking forward to having a good time with him, you hang on to the feeling as much as you can.”
Happy Father’s Day.