April 09, 2008 07:51 PM by Lisa Stauber
Debbie and Joe Citarella have four children, and no control. Joe’s a cop, but he can’t keep the peace at home. Debbie finds the children’s misbehavior hilarious, and can’t stop laughing. Rebecca, 7, and sister Sarah, 6, are hard to control and set in their ways. Hannah, 3, has made a habit of shoplifting, and Joshua, 1, is a little brute.
“They run a three ring circus around me,” Debbie laughs. She chases them around the house playing when they disobey, though. Dad is no ringmaster either, and even the simplest time-out turns into a lengthy discussion and nagging session.
Supernanny Jo Frost arrives to save the day. She’s back to her green and orange suit and she means business. Observation begins, and Jo asks Dad which is easier, his home life or his job as a police officer. “Keeping the public in check is easier!” he replies.
Debbie needs to run an errand, and takes all four children with her. They are whirlwinds with sticky fingers, touching, grabbing and snatching. Mom gives little Hannah a pat down before they leave, to make sure she didn’t steal anything. “There’s no control whatsoever!” Jo notes.
Back at home, Josh throws a fit, screaming and running. Mom starts laughing, then plays peek-a-boo. Looks like little Joshua already knows how to get out of trouble! Mealtime is horrible, as the children have never been taught manners. Supernanny’s seen enough, and she leaves before the Citarella’s get around to bedtime.
The Parent Meeting is quick. “It’s obvious that the pair of you love your children a lot,” Jo says, but wonders why Cop Joe can’t be an authority figure. “I don’t want to be the dad who doesn’t have fun,” he says. Debbie giggles and laughs throughout, and Jo Frost finally gets fed up. “You’re in cuckoo-land,” Jo tells her. “I want you to stop laughing!” Jo notices that Dad put in earplugs to tune out the kids’ behavior. “I get headaches,” he protests, when she tries to ban them. The Citarellas promise they’ll try to do better, but Supernanny is tough. “I don’t do try,” she says.
Jo starts with the basics, and gathers the family to try to hash out a routine. Debbie fights every step of the way, making excuses and complaining. She decides that she doesn’t want the children to have snack time, argues about the breakfasts, and throws up obstacle after obstacle, giggling throughout. “Mom laughs whenever anything becomes overwhelming,” Jo says, and by the looks of it, Mom is overwhelmed a lot.
Jo decides to have a little chat with Debbie. “You accept that you’re doing things wrong,” she tells Debbie. “You’re an immature woman who needs to grow up.” Debbie laughs again, even as she wipes away tears. Supernanny doesn’t let up. “You’re lazy.” Debbie mumbles a few excuses, but Jo will not have any of it. “Do not play with me!” she snaps. “If you didn’t need my help, I wouldn’t be here!”
The talk seems to have done some good, because Debbie’s at least trying now. Teaching can finally begin, and Supernanny and Mom give Hanna a lesson about stealing while playing grocery store.
Dad is still failing Time Out 101, and Supernanny hunkers down for some intense training. “I want to teach him how to discipline without saying a word,” Jo says. She does want parents to speak up for the Tip of the Week, however. If you’re stuck at work, take Supernanny’s advice and pack your child’s favorite bedtime story. Call him at bedtime and read together, to stay connected.
Four days later, Jo Frost returns to the Citarella’s with footage in tow. Mom does an excellent job preparing her kids for shopping, setting clear expectations and consequences before they even enter the store. Dad is still struggling with time outs, though. He just can’t keep quiet and argues back and forth with the kids.
Jo teaches Dad a lesson by taking a car ride with him and wearing ear plugs. He gets the message and throws them out, vowing to actually talk to his kids in the car instead of zoning out. Now Supernanny gives them a big test – going out to eat and teaching table manners on the fly while at the restaurant. It’s enough to give any parent a heart attack, but Joe and Debbie agree to try it.
Joshua has a meltdown, screaming again and Dad handles it better than Mom. Supernanny takes her to task again. “Instead of following through, you did the easier thing!” she cries. Soon, though, the kids start minding their manners, and Jo Frost leaves the family to enjoy their meal.
The family seems back on track. “We’ve become a better family,” Joe says. Mom has learned to discipline without laughing, and the kids are happier too.
Photo courtesy ABC/Bob D’Amico