By Dave Stancliff/For The Times-Standard
Have you ever seen an episode of “Leave It To Beaver?”
The iconic sitcom, which debuted on October 4, 1957, was about a suburban family (The Cleavers) and their daily life. The main character was Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver, played by Jerry Mathers. The show followed his adventures at home, in school, and around his neighborhood.
If you will, imagine the following episode and this summary of the sitcom in TV Guide:
“Wally (played by Tony Dow) and Beaver sue Their Parents! The boys have had enough. After drawing up a list of complaints they get a lawyer to take their case pro bono. Their father, Ward (played by Hugh Beaumont) and mother (played by Barbara Billingsley) have to dip into their savings to defend themselves.”
Lawyer - Judge, I submit this recent birthday card as evidence A of Beaver’s hardships. It did not come with cash or a check.
Judge - Duly noted.
Lawyer - On behalf of my other client Wally, I submit another birthday card as evidence A. On the front, if the court will note, is a group of indistinguishable cartoon tomatoes. One of them is different and has funny-looking eyes. Inside it reads, “Son I got you this birthday card because it’s just like you ... different from all the rest!"
Judge - Hmmmm…okay. Anything else?
Lawyer - Yes, your honor. I submit these two detailed lists of complaints from both of my clients citing dates and times when hardships were suffered. They also accuse their parents of being evil. (Loud gasp from the audience) You’ll note that Beaver has listed physical abuse because of spankings.
Judge - Mr. and Mrs. Cleaver. Do you have anything to say to the court?
Ward - Your honor, I’m doing my best to teach the boys good old American values.
June - I may have gone overboard once and asked Wally to do the dishes, but I was recovering from back surgery.
Judge - I’m going to give you time to respond, point-by-point, to the accusations next week when we reconvene this trial.
(Music in backround - theme song from the “Omen” Ave Satani, composed by Jerry Goldsmith)
Where am I going with all of this? Two children who grew up in the lap of luxury sued their mother in 2009, for doing a bad job of raising them. They wanted her to pay - literally. I’m serious. An Illinois appeals court disagreed with that assessment in June.
Steven Miner II, now 23, and his sister Kathryn, 20, were hoping to get $50,000 from their mother, Kimberly Garrity, for “emotional distress’’ from “bad mothering.’’ The court ruled that finding in their favor “could potentially open the floodgates to subject family child rearing to ... excessive judicial scrutiny and interference."
Gee, you think? How did this ridiculous case ever go so far? It sure wouldn’t have happened during the Cleavers time in the fifties. I may mock the judicial process today with my imaginary episode, but there’s nothing funny about what these children of privilege (they were raised in a $1.1 million dollar home) did.
Look what happened. Their mother had to pay for a lawyer to defend herself and go through two years of stress wondering when the madness would end. Are you sitting down for this? The children’s lawyer was none other than their father, Steven A. Miner, who filed the lawsuit for free. Not getting money in a birthday card, having to wear seat belts, and other incredibly stupid items were listed as evidence against the mother.
Isn’t there a law about filing frivolous lawsuits? How could anyone have taken this case seriously? It looks pretty obvious from the initial filing, dad was seeking the ultimate revenge by claiming his ex-wife was “an inadequate mother.”
I couldn’t help but laugh when I read from the court report, “I tried to talk my children out of filing the lawsuit.” Say what? His kids have that much control over him? Doesn’t sound very convincing to me.
As It Stands, I bet Ward Cleaver never had control issues with the Beaver and Wally.