I love this show. It brings back memories of my own family
"race." When I was about 5 years old, my parents packed my older
brother and me into the family car for a 1400-mile vacation from our
Wisconsin home to Key West, Florida. I remember my first ocean waves,
miles of sand (wow, what a sandbox!), the monster-looking jellyfish,
peaceful giant turtles, and something that looked like a football but was
in fact a coconut. My parents tell me what they remembered most was my
almost constant mantra of "how many miles, daddy?" And my mantra
started BEFORE we had even backed out of our driveway. A long, very long
road trip for mommy and daddy.
So, I started watching this Amazing Family Race with excitement and
anticipation. I was not disappointed. The race started race in New York
Ten 4-person family teams composed of dads, moms, a step mom,
stepchildren, a widow, son in-laws, sisters, brothers, and children. They
originated from Florida, Virginia, Louisiana, New York, Massachusetts,
Connecticut, Ohio, and Illinois. They all wanted to win that paycheck of
one million dollars. Yet beneath the monetary award, perhaps they more
deeply wanted to either affirm or to reaffirm their family bonding. Money
is money, but family love is everlasting.
The Gaghan family (mom, dad, son Billy and daughter Carissa) is a
jogging family. Runners all. Yet it was little 9-year-old Carissa who has
stolen my heart. Her eyes wide open mesmerized by New York City graffiti
spray paint, to calling her brother a "dork" (okay, I am
identifying with her because I have an older brother and when I was
little, he could really be a "dork"). She is their family
cheerleader. At the end of the first pit stop, they finished second.
The Lenz family consists of three brothers and one sister. Strong and
young, yet their strength practically exhausted itself in the Buggy-pull
challenge. They all seem to be quite impulsive without really thinking
through the initial challenges. The boys tend to ignore sister Megan's
suggestions. They need to start listening to her and start working as a
group. Nonetheless, after they successfully rowed across the Delaware
River to retrieve the colonial flag, this family shared their sincere
patriotic feelings having been in the footsteps of General Washington.
Perhaps their shared sense of patriotism will help solidify them. At the
end of the first pit stop, they finished ninth.
The dressed in pink Godlewski sisters have enough vocal volume to
shatter the walls of Jericho. These extremely competitive siblings overtly
harass, challenge, support, and freely exhibit their sisterly love. They
are constantly talking to one another, talking about one another, talking
through one another, and talking and talking and talking…. It is kind of
like "if you won't listen to me, I will just yell louder." My
brain will need more caffeine to just keep up. At the end of the first pit
stop, their first place finished was sweetened with a $20,000 bonus.
The Aiello family (father and his three son in-laws) is struggling to
find out how to work together. Unlike the other families who have lived
with one another, these four very different men are coming to the race
without much previous history. Family reunions around a picnic table are
not the same as planning and executing decisions. But we have a positive
glimpse of their strength when they raced to the finish. The son in-laws
were yards ahead of dad, but they stopped until he caught up and then they
all stepped on the matt together as one solid family unit. At the end of
the first pit stop, they finished eighth.
The Weaver family (widow mother and three children) is grieving the
death of the father. I almost typed "recovering" but we never
really recover from such a heart shredding loss. The pain is there, always
lingering in the shadows. They are holding onto one another, sharing
memories of the family that once was, and starting to build new family
memories. They are a tough group. Linda, the mother, nearly was crushed
when their buggy brakes failed. With a broken buggy wheel, they returned
to the starting point and built the waterwheel. They do not know the word
"quit" and I predict they will be among the finalists. At the
end of the first pit stop, they finished third.
And then we have the Paolo family (mother and father with unruly sons).
Hardworking father and housekeeping mother are seemingly cursed with two
boys who think nothing of talking back, belittling and demeaning their
parents. Can you tell I do not like the two sons? These kids grate on my
nerves so much, that I cheered mother Marion's utterance of pure disgust
at their behaviors. But even then, the father seemed either unable to make
a demand a change, or perhaps he is so beaten down by his shameful sons'
behavior, that he cannot support his suffering wife. Did you notice that
as they ran to the finish mat, the father and sons were way ahead of
mother? She was left behind and that is a clear snapshot of this family.
However, I do have a suggestion---Super Nanny Jo with her "naughty
spot" needs to visit this family. Soon. At the end of the first pit
stop, they finished sixth.
The Bransen family (father with three daughters) pulls together. The
girls seen very supported by their father and they in turn are attentive
to him. Although the daughters call dad "Wally", it is not
disrespectful but more of an affirmation of their affection to him. At the
end of the first pit stop, they finished seventh.
The Schroeder family (father, stepmother and two daughters) is a
hard-hitting family. Literally. They workout in the gym slugging away at a
boxing bag. Timing, precision, focus and snap make that heavy bag jump
like a startled cat. This family is focused. At the end of the first pit
stop, they finished fourth.
The Rogers (father, mother, and two children) announced themselves as a
Biblically based family. Dad spares no words in proclaiming his God-given
right as head of the house and you better listen to him. Period. This
unity may prove beneficial when making quick decisions with no discussion
allowed. But such authoritarian command can ultimately lead to poor
choices. At the end of the first pit stop, they finished fourth.
The Black family (father, mother and two sons) finished last at the end
of the first pit stop. But not in my race book. They all exhibited strong
family support and confidence. Both of the sons, Ken age 11 and little
Austin age 8 are respectful of their parents and trust their guidance.
Father Reggie and mother Kim really talked between themselves and with
their children. They listened to one another and not only that, they
"heard" one another. This family is beautiful. Knowing that they
were in last place, the family struggled to finish the water wheel. Austin
was assigned to fetch a pail of water from a muddy stream. He tripped and
tumbled into the mud. Calling for help, his father immediately ran to him.
He literally picked him up to safety. He then soothingly reassured his
frightened and embarrassed younger son, quietly saying "these things
happen, good job." You cannot ask for nor can you expect more from a
loving father. Yes, they finished last and were eliminated. But when they
walked out of that Pennsylvania farm field, they walked together as a
family. For them, their participation in the Amazing Race is over. But
they will walk through life as a loving family. And they will truly be the
winners of life's amazing race.