'Modern Family' Gets Growing Pains

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Now that iPad fever has subsided a bit, it's back to basics for the Modern Family crew. This week was all about the inevitable issues of kids growing up too fast, the delicate balance involved in dealing with a father-in-law, and communicating what you really want to your partner.

When it comes to in-laws and coaching kids, football trumps basketball. Phil drops some knowledge on how to deal with pushy Jay: "Father-in-laws are tough, because you can't let them push you around and you also have to show them respect. It's like walking a tight rope—which, by the way, I can do, because I went to trapeze school. Did Jay? I doubt it."

Buttering up your mother is the oldest trick in the book, and moms don't buy it for a second. Tween daughter Alex has entered "that dreaded stage where my very existence embarrasses her," Claire tells us. Alex ditches her mom real quick after spotting her friends outside the mall during their shopping trip, executing her best hair flip with a syrupy "Hiiii Jennaaa," that's downright jarring coming from the once-surly character.

When Alex finally meets up with her mother in the parking lot, we finally see a glimpse of our good ol' girl...or do we?

Playing hard to get works in almost any relationship. Manny tells Gloria she should avoid coming to his games, because they both know that her "Latin blood" makes it impossible for her not to get fired up while watching—her protective cheers of Manny do more damage than good. So, Gloria eases her sadness over her coffee-drinking ten-year-old growing up by spending the day with Lily at the mall (though her date is intercepted by Claire, dealing with the same anxieties about Alex), later ignoring Manny's play-by-play of the game.

Oh, how quickly we decide we want something the minute we can't have it anymore.

It's okay if you want to be a "stay-at-home dad slash trophy wife" and equally fine if you just don't like baby talk. Cam took on a job at a greeting card store that has secretly taken him to "a really dark space," while tightly-wound Mitch is losing it staying at home with the baby all day. They later realize that there's no reason to hide what they truly want, and it was hard to believe that they would judge the other for it, in the first place. However, their internal struggles made for the funniest bit of the show.

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Aylin Zafar is a freelance writer based in New York.

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