Friday, May 17, 2024

Bandit is Why I Loved "The Sign"

So last month I asked Joe to review Bluey's extended episode "The Sign", and he did not disappoint. But as soon as I read his review, I knew I needed to write my own. This isn't a rebuttal to his post, at least not in the traditional sense, but I definitely wanted to share a different perspective on the episode and why, in contrast to Joe, I loved it.

I watched "The Sign" with my girls while we were visiting Utah for my brother-in-law's wedding, and in the midst of house hunting, so the wedding and move were topics I could already relate to. My heart felt for Bandit: wrestling through a seemingly impossible situation, trying to do the right thing for his family. 

Understandably for Joe and anyone else who had issues with the Heeler family cancelling their move in "The Sign", there was a lesson that was seemingly negated by staying. We learned from Calypso that things don't always work out the way we want them, and the ambiguous ending in the story of "the Farmer" left that point front and center for Bluey throughout the rest of the episode. To anyone who took issue with that abrupt turn of events, the change in tone and direction, I feel for you, and it isn't the only abrupt twist of events. Just look at Brandy! For the record, I agree that Brandy’s sudden pregnancy feels cheap after watching “Onesies”—mostly because she was just an Easter egg; if she’s gonna be pregnant finally, she deserves her own episode again. But I digress...

As a father, my focus in the episode was on Bandit. Compared to the kids and Chili he had limited screen time, but his time was impactful. It was obvious to me that, like any decent father, he wanted the best for his kids. I think he truly believed that the move and the better paying job would give his kids what they needed. But that's part of the problem here. 

As far as we can tell from three seasons of Bluey, there's nothing to indicate that the Heelers are in any dire financial hardship. Like many families, they probably have a mortgage and some debt, but nothing that precluded them from their basic needs and a little extra. So why was Bandit concerned about giving them a better life? Probably for the same reason I felt guilty using my time off to recover from a splitting headache. 

There’s something about being a father that’s simultaneously humbling and empowering. I think any good father has this near constant wonder if he’s raising his kids properly. Am I giving them enough attention? Am I listening properly? Am I doing enough? Am I good enough? I think this is what Bandit was dealing with (some have speculated he’s had this on his mind as far back as “Stickbird”). There’s a constant searching for all good fathers to give their kids enough and to make them happy. And I think sometimes we get the wrong idea about what will make that happen. 

Bandit thought a better paying job would give him the means to give his kids the best life. Maybe sometimes a move and a better paying job is best. Maybe sometimes planting roots is best. But what’s most important is to try where you're already planted. I know Yoda said “do or do not” but I believe trying to see the best and do our best as fathers will matter more than a high-paying salary. Cling to your Chili and do the best you can. Maybe ripping the sign out was the wrong move for Bandit; but if that’s the case, then he and Chili made the mistake together.

A line from Girl Meets World come to mind. It's when Maya confronts her birth father: “Your job was to stay.” That is a truly powerful lesson. The greatest thing as fathers that we can do, dads, is to be present with your Blueys and Bingos. Do as best you can. And if you’re ever feeling insecure, like you can’t measure up to a cartoon dog (we’ll talk about that on the podcast a little next month), or you feel you can't be the dad you think you ought to, please look at your kids and remember how much they love you (my therapist throws that trump card at me all the time)–and in the words of Wreck-It Ralph, “If that little kid likes me, how bad can I be?”

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