“Parent-normal Activity” started with Mike (Allen) and Vanessa (Nancy Travis) talking about how difficult Sarah has been lately. Mike thought Sarah was reminding him of Eve (Kaitlyn Dever) during her childhood. So Vanessa decided it was important to set some boundaries for Sarah. After the show’s title, Sarah was annoying Jen (Krista Marie Yu) with a kazoo. Vanessa tried to get Sarah to stop, but Sarah refused. Sarah then threw the kazoo at Vanessa, who told her she earned a timeout.
Later, Mandy (Molly McCook) stopped by to pick up Sarah. Vanessa noted that she doesn’t think Sarah should be running wild around the house while Molly is at work. Vanessa told Mandy she put Sarah in a timeout, which shocked Mandy. Strangely enough, Mandy didn’t want Sarah to apologize to her grandmother. She wanted Vanessa to apologize to Sarah! Vanessa refused to do so. “It’s ok, grandma,” Sarah said in an adorable way. Mandy said Sarah forgave her.
After Sarah left the room, Vanessa explained that Sarah needs to understand that what she was doing was wrong. Vanessa felt she had nothing to apologize for. “The only thing she needs to know is that I love her, and the only thing you need to know is this: timeout is the opposite of love!” Mandy said with a huff as she left.
That night, Vanessa wondered if Mandy was missing her constant influence since she moved out of her parents’ house. She thought Ryan (Jordan Masterson) was a bad influence on Mandy’s parenting skills. During the day, Vanessa stopped by Mandy’s, where Kyle (Christoph Sanders) insisted they were not taking parenting advice from Ryan.
After Ryan left the room, Mandy revealed that her true problem was that she really does not like her daughter. “It’s not like she’s an evil person. You should hear her play the kazoo, she’s an angel,” Mandy said. When the conversation turned serious, Mandy told Vanessa that she feels Sarah “hates” her. Vanessa told her this is nothing special, and many parents feel this way. “So, there were times when you didn’t like me?” Mandy asked. “Oh, honey, especially you,” Vanessa joked. “I can see that,” Mandy said.
“The thing is, you don’t want to stop being a parent because you think you might upset them,” Vanessa said. “Mandy, look, Sarah is your daughter, so this is your decision. If you want to be a good friend, then you just continue doing what you’re doing. If you want to be a good parent, you really have to set some boundaries.”
The next day, Mandy dropped Sarah off at Vanessa’s. Mandy and Sarah revealed they had a talk about how she should behave at grandma’s house. After Sarah left, Mandy told Vanessa that she understands now that she has to “hold the line” when Sarah misbehaves. “Can you imagine what would have happened if me and your father didn’t hold the line with Eve and she wound up using her powers for evil?” Vanessa joked. Sarah came back and all she wanted to do was watch television. Mandy asked Sarah to shut it off and gave Vanessa the remote. After listening to her mom, Vanessa rewarded Sarah by turning on the TV. “I thought you were teaching me how to be a good mother?” Mandy asked. “I was… now I’m teaching you how to be a good grandmother,” Mandy said.
Elsewhere in the episode, Joe (Leno) was shocked to hear that Mike has been getting Ed (Hector Elizondo) alcohol for their business anniversary every year. Joe thought Mike should put more thought into it and make a homemade gift, but Mike reminded Joe that he is not Santa Claus. (Or is he?) In the end, Mike did put some thought into the gift, the check Mike wanted to use to buy into Outdoor Man when Ed started the business. Ed’s gift was a song he wrote for Mike! The Outdoor Man Vlog featured Mike explaining that parents should not be best friends with their children, a lesson Mandy learned. New Last Man Standing episodes air Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.