Sunday, January 27, 2019

Recap: Kate Plus 8 "Birthday #11": There is absolutely no correlation between sugar and hyper-activity, Nurse Kate. Yeah science!!

Admin's note: I've been writing recaps for the various shows the Gosselin have popped up on for over a decade now. When I started this blog I made a goal to include recaps for all the episodes, and set about diligently recapping everything that was new to air going forward. Of course real life gets in the way sometimes and I missed episodes here and there, but I always vowed to go back to recapping any missed episodes, which I have managed to do in little spurts over the past couple years. Even though it's usually easier to recap episodes as soon as they air, it's been interesting to go back and look at these old episodes so carefully years later, knowing what we know now. I have noticed things in hindsight, particularly about Collin, and the dynamic between Kate and some of her children, I'm sure I never would have otherwise. It's been an interesting exercise indeed. Finally I've achieved this goal with this final recap of an old episode I missed, the kids' eleventh birthday. It remains to be seen whether we will ever see Kate or the family on air again, so perhaps, this is my last ever recap of this saga. Only the future knows.

Coming up on Kate Plus 8, another tedious birthday episode. This time the kids are turning eleven. Thirteen is still two years away but for some reason Kate wants to harp on the teenage years looming. Could we just live in the moment right now, and embrace ten going into eleven? It's a great age, arguably one of the best ages a kid can ever be (they're old enough to pretty much be game for anything, and capable of it too, but still young enough to think their parents are still the best people in the world). I've never seen a person so constantly looking either backwards or forwards. It's not healthy.

You guessed it, Kate's blabbing on for awhile mostly about her, because all of the kids' birthdays are always all about her feelings and opinions.

Kate goes on yet again about how relaxed she is as the years go by, but the truth is she is still harping on this that and the other thing and there is still lots of chaos and yelling in a house this delusional woman thinks is so much calmer.

Having your desk/office area in the middle of the dining room is just pathetic in a house this size and looks tacky, always has. She has lots of tacky things going on in this house, usually it amounts to furniture way too big for the space or arranged awkwardly. Would it kill her to get an interior designer in here just for a day or two or poke around pinterest? A few modest changes would do wonders for this house. Things that work fine in more modest quarters don't translate to McMansions. Why bother? Just live like the rest of us then.

Kate's frantically cutting muenster cheese into little blocks. I freaking love muenster cheese, I could eat that stuff by the pound. And that's why you can't ever wash that blue out of my blue collar, I own it.

Kate's doing a "progressive" birthday party for the kids in multiple different locations, or as us adults call it, bar hopping. She knows she didn't event this concept, right? Just checking.

Mady seems to understand why the sextuplets birthdays are always so big, because even if the kids each only invite one friend, that's a hundred million people. Well, no, it's just 12 people, but I get what she's saying and I'm glad she seems to have developed some understanding now why everything to do with the sextuplets "appears" to be so much grander than the things she does or receives, because it's times 6. Though in recent years just times 5 and now times 4. Heh....

Kate's micromanaging the packing of their bags to an absurd level. If you must oversee it that carefully, just do it yourself. To involve the kids in the packing but then be such a hard-ass about it just frustrates the kids and puts them off wanting to chip in and do the chore of packing at all. The truth is, an eleven-year-old kid really isn't capable of packing a bag on their own. I know, I went abroad with 30 of them. They have no idea what they need or what's appropriate. In their heads maybe a couple t-shirts, shorts and sneakers suffices for any and all occasions, they pack things they shouldn't like some huge toy or the family gerbil, and they're notorious for forgetting really important things like a jacket or a toothbrush. There are a lot of things kids should start being responsible for at that age and can handle, but that ain't one of them. And we're back to Kate having no understanding of child development.

The kids and Kate have a long and unnecessary-to-the-plot conversation about who is coming to the party, but I'm mostly distracted by the sheer amount of STUFF in this room. I never quite figured out what this room is supposed to be, but it appears to be off a more formal dining room. I dislike houses that have rooms without a clear purpose, or extra rooms. You don't need two dining rooms or two living rooms. That's a relic of more formal, stuffy days when you would have rooms you entertain in and rooms you would actually live in. It's outdated, and houses designed like this clearly leave somebody like Kate at a loss. They've got Kate's messy desk crammed in this room, a bench with a bunch of laundry that's not put away, a table that can at most comfortably hold four people, which seems like an odd choice for a family this size, what's more they've squeezed the piano in this room too, and even some couches! It's like a room that doesn't know what it is. It looks like a furniture store only people are living in it, it's that bad. Maybe because I'm watching way too much of Flipping Out on Bravo that I feel hypercritical of the circus in this room, but it really is soooo bad.

Nooooo, not more flashbacks! I refuse to recap any more clips. Refuse! We randomly launch into Kate's description of Leah. Maybe she'll do this for all the kids? Kate's description is almost exclusively about how Leah is physically small and always has been. Nothing about what personality traits make her such a good kid, nothing about what she likes to do and where her talents lie, no funny stories Kate has to share about her. Just, she's super tiny.

They meet up with their friends and then Kate drives them to the roller rink. I'm unclear how they all got there, because it seems like there are far more kids than spots on the bus.

They skate at a roller rink. Nothing happens. They either rented the whole place out, or this a roller rink straight out of The Walking Dead, because there's nobody else here. I understand it's probably easier to deal with filming when just your cast is on set, but it's yet another experience in the long line of experiences that these children have had that just aren't typical or realistic. The idea that anybody but the most insanely wealthy will ever be able to afford to rent out an entire rink for a birthday, is absurd.

Kate gives herself an incredible amount of credit for all sorts of things including planning the party and then pats herself on her back for letting the kids go off with their friends at the party. Congratulations woman, here's your award. Now even better, next year just come to the friends' party at the end, and have a family party another day where you attend it all. Kate snaps at kids far too old to be running in parking lots to stop running in parking lots. Eh, they're fine, all the cars in the lot belong to production and they're all still back inside tearing down the set

Next stop, pizza. Kate forgot that pizza restaurants often sometimes serve things other than pizza, which is too complicated for Kate. The waitress is trying to hard sell Kate on the Sicilian pizza, probably because they ordered too much of that dough or something today, but Kate's not falling for that. Oh my god the pizza looks amazing. Northeast Coast pizza. There really is nothing like it. It's really unbelievable how bad the pizza is where I live compared to the pies I've had in Pennsylvania and other nearby states. Pizza, I miss you.

Now they're picking out cakes at a bakery. Seems like skating and a pizza party for a birthday is plenty for even the most spoiled of children, but leave it to Kate to push the limits of everything. She's in some kind of weird competition with somebody, who I don't know. Kate says nothing about Aaden for a moment other than she can't believe he's eleven, and then they just have to rehash cupcake gate yet again, this time with Aaden sitting right there grinning about it so we all know that was all okay because look, see, he gets a kick out of it now! Because nobody in the history of child abuse has ever laughed about the abuse they endured when they were younger. (On the contrary, laughing over it later is an extremely common and normal reaction many victims have.) Cupcake gate really bothers Kate, and she takes every chance she can to explain it away. I just love that that gets under her skin. Mission accomplished, haters!

And now, to the hotel. It appears the only reason they are at a hotel is to use one of its conference rooms for the cake. What the hay? Why not just do it at the house? It's not like this is a kid friendly room. It looks like a room better suited to laptops and spreadsheets and free coffee, not a children's birthday. Lori is a good friend of the family who was happy to help them with the party. Lori?? Never heard of her, which usually means she's actually just part of production. And not a few minutes ago Kate was patting herself on the back for how Kate planned this whole party, she never mentioned no Lori. Now she admits Lori did most of it? So funny.

How in the world did the cake shop make these cakes so fast and get them to the hotel ahead of the party? Well, that makes no sense. The magic of the movies I suppose!

I'm glad Kate doesn't make everyone sing happy birthday six times. Just once for the boys and once for the girls. And I actually think it's rather sweet that she does light the candles six times so they can each blow out the candles on their own. That was a thoughtful touch, actually. And in an unusual moment of Kate actually being fair, she tells the twins to buzz off when they try to jump in on the middle of Kate serving the cake and demand their pieces. Kate's like, nope not now, it's not your birthday. Good lord, finally someone tells the twins to knock it the f off with their absurd, entitled, rude and immature behavior toward their siblings and others. The immature girls then whine a bit on the couch about how their next birthday better be this grand. It's really, really unattractive.

Kate's one of those parents always whining about their kids being hyper from sugar. It's annoying and a deflection for poor parenting. Also, it's their birthday. Of all days of the year they should be able to have as much sugar as they like and act a little crazy. Also, as a nurse, I'm surprised she hasn't heard the pretty widely circulated memo going all the way back to the 90's that there is absolutely no correlation between sugar and hyper-activity. So it's either bad parenting, the kid has special needs, or a kid is just being a kid.

It takes forever to get through the segment where they open presents. If you think it's boring to watch a person in real life open their presents, imagine watching it on T.V. The kids are excited and grateful.

Kate talks about how parentified Hannah always has been, as if she is proud of this. On the contrary, I am generally concerned for parentificatied kids and so are psychologists. Tellingly, Kate says Hannah is the child who most wishes her parents weren't divorced and doesn't know how to fix it. Yet, Kate doesn't mention how she, Kate, is helping her child deal with these very normal emotions, if at all. Eventually, that lack of help will lead to Hannah leaving Kate and going to live with the person who does fulfill her emotional needs. I recently skimmed an article about someone I usually hate, Goopy, that wretched Gweneth Paltrow woman, who actually had some really wise things to say about helping divorced kids. Apparently the Goopster took both her ex and her kids along on her honeymoon with her new husband: "We just wanted to minimize the pain for the kids.They just want to see their parents around the dinner table, basically, so we just try to keep that." Her oldest kid is just four days younger than the tups. 

Kate says Hannah often asks if she's "okay."

"I can tell when you're not okay," says Hannah matter-of-factly, even when Kate pretends she's okay. The unanswered question I have is why in the world is an 11-year-old wasting a moment of her brief childhood fixated on whether her mother is "okay," and what is Kate doing to help her not be so preoccupied with such unhealthy fixations? Rhetorical question, my guess is based on Kate's own statements and body language she loves this fixation some of the kids have on her, she loves being doted on, and she uses children to fulfill emotional needs that only she or other adults should be responsible for. It is not a surprise that at least some of these children as they've gotten older are tired of being their mother's soft place to fall and have gone on to live with their father where he doesn't depend on children to meet his emotional needs.

Kate threatens to strip search the kids if they don't leave their play weapons behind in the party room, and like typical 11-year-olds, they go absolutely bonkers at the idea that somebody might be.....naked!!!! Heh.

Spending the night in this hotel sounds more like something a 40-year-old would like for their birthday, not an 11-year-old, which is what I expect happened. Kate thought what she, Kate, would like for her birthday, and projected that on to the kids. Nonetheless the kids seem to be enjoying this, so oh well. They only have two hotel rooms for 18 people! Granted I guess at least the rooms are more like two per group because they're adjoining, but it seems to me two of the rooms are just for Kate and Lori, so that's still 8 kids in one room. Are they really allowed to put this many people in one room, or is this some special accommodation yet again for filming that the kids will not understand years later doesn't work in real life?

Why is it so important for Kate that they take showers tonight? I wouldn't bother to try to shower these kids, they can shower when they get back to their respective homes. It's just one night. I wouldn't expect any parent to want another parent to make sure their 11-year-old gets showered for only one night. This is a great example of Kate always adding unnecessary aggravation to everyone's plates.

I kind of like Lori. She speaks to the girls calmly, and gives gentle reminders to mind their manners. She seems like an adult who is like 10 percent invested in these kids, but would like quiet so she can get some sleep tonight so. A dead ringer for someone who is just part of production. Who is she, and how come we've never seen her again?

Uh-oh, the girls think this is nottttt fair. Why? Because their rooms are smaller than the boys. Oy. I didn't do it on purpose, Kate insists. Of course she didn't. If she did it on purpose, the girls' room would be the best one. Kate uses great parenting techniques to mediate this situation like yelling at the girls that they are ruining their party, and telling them she will never do this for them again. That's soooo helpful in this situation. Why doesn't she just go around to each girl and inventory where they will sleep and ensure they have a matress of some kind and enough pillows and all that, and then calmly tell them she loves them and to have a great night and she'll see them in the morning and don't leave your room unless it's an emergency? Ignore their whining and complaining. This is not a difficult problem. The girls want to escalate it, but if Kate doesn't engage, it can't be escalated. Of course this is Kate we're talking about, so she immediately gets down in the mud with the 11-year-olds.

Why did the girls even see the boys room in the first place to know it was so much bigger? That was a mistake. The one thing Kate did right in this situation is to not get the boys involved. Curious about what's going on, Collin asks Kate about what the drama was all over there and Kate basically tells him it's not a big deal don't worry about it. The last thing you need is to involve more kids in this conflict or for the boys to know that the drama is over the girls being jealous of the boys' room (the boys could then use that information to tease the girls, which will just make things worse). The number one thing I've noticed these kids seem to fight about over the years is sleeping arrangements. Who knew that's what would set them off? We used to have family reunions with a dozen kids in one ranch house and I never once remember fighting about who would sleep where. We just sort of found an open bed or air mattress or couch and off we went to dreamland. Weird.

The next morning, ha, Kate looks hung over. Alexis says smugly that she wakes up the "prettiest" after sleepovers, heh, and all the girls fight over this.

Kate knocks on Mady and Cara's door and they refuse to come to the door. Kate thinks this is hilarious and harasses them by pushing their doorbell several times. I think it's completely unacceptable that when you ask your teenager to come to the hotel room door, a hotel you are paying for no less (well in this case, production), that they refuse to come. She created spoiled brats who walk all over their parents by allowing things like this, it's not the children's fault. 

Some of the kids are grouchy at the hotel breakfast. There's a big ole boring drama about Alexis being accidentally tripped by one of the girls and then pushing her and then Kate forces her to apologize sincerely, which no eleven-year-old kid can do when they're pissed and in tears. I'm guessing they probably didn't get ten hours of sleep which tends to happen on sleepovers, but as per the usual, Kate doesn't help things and instead engages with the grouchiest ones. If someone is being grouchy, best to just ignore them or if it's out of control, send her back to her room and she can come to breakfast when she's feeling calm. I'm pretty convinced Kate actually enjoys seeing her kids worked up about whatever they're worked up about at the moment, which if you think about it, is kind of sick. I almost wonder if it might have been best in that situation to just ignore what Alexis did, pretend you didn't see it, or maybe talk to her about it later when she's calmed down. The other Tup wasn't upset and they all seemed to quickly move on from the incident if Kate hadn't intervened. Alexis is eleven, and she'll outgrow pushing her sisters soon enough when she realizes only little kids do that. Trying to take corrective action in front of all her friends when everyone is just trying to sit down and eat was an exercise in futility.

In a rare sweet moment later on the couch Kate and Alexis make a pact that Alexis will never act like a teenager. I've made pacts like that with kids in my life. Heh.

I do like the kids' friends. For the most part they seem nice, normal, not snobby, and sincere in their friendships with  the family. Well, that's it folks. Will we see Kate back on our screens again? Stay tuned.