Sunday, October 18, 2009

Where The Wild Things Are

Oh, my. I knew it would be lovely, I knew I would shed tears, but I could not say in advance why I knew. Even now, having seen the movie, I can not clearly say why; I know because I tried to explain my feelings about the movie to my Love and I don't think they quite came across as I felt them:

How Spike Jonze and Max Records got perfectly that look in a child's eye when they know they're not valued, that look that brings me deep sadness; that for reasons beyond their understanding, what they see as their work and joy is looked down upon so often, placed beneath the level of what we grown-ups have to do. You know the look, I'm sure- the one your child has when they ask you to play Legos or color with them and you say, "Oh, I'd love to, but I really have to -fill in the adult blank-." And the look says, "Yes, I knew you'd say that and my heart is broken, but I'll keep trying." They try politely, asking you to play each day or, like Max, demand their needs be met with wolfish antics and howls, which we punish or ignore, depending on how our adult day went. Until one day they stop trying and we can then lament how they're growing up so fast that they want nothing to do with us.

How each of the Wild Things was able to express parts of Max that he himself was not able, in words, to express, because kids don't have all the words we adults have just yet. So that when Judith is angry and growling at her king, and Max growls back, Judith says that he doesn't get to do that, that when she's upset he doesn't get to be upset back because he's supposed to make it better (that's a paraphrase). And I was taken to those times in my parenting history when a small child, one of my own, was upset and I, with more words and greater experience, "growled" back. I thought, Judith is right - I don't get to growl back.

How perfectly Spike captured the living of a nine-year old boy- and that it was familiar to me. Not in a Yes, my son's room is that messy, too sort of way but in a way that, to me, means I am deeply connected with my child. I have built the same snow igloo many winters over, times two, so that we both have stockpiles of snowballs to throw. I have sat and marveled at Lego creations more times than I can count. I have transcribed stories about aliens and knights and countless other wonderful beings. I have loved living this life with this boy who is now nine and when he has turned wolfish I have loved the work that has led me to understand him, and so many times, myself, better.

How the movie shows that children believe anything is possible and while it may turn out imperfect, it is still beautiful- and that letting them learn what is possible is the only way for them to come home, to who they are, to relationship, to so much more than my sleepy writing can contain.

Let it suffice to say that when I came home from the movie, I laid on the carpet and took turns steamrolling with my Love and my son, looking into his 9 year-old eyes and knowing that laying in a pile was the most important thing I could be doing at that moment in my life.


Unknown said...

Beautiful, Jen...just beautiful. And Oh So True. Love you!!

jonvoss said...

hrmph. great, bawling before i even see the movie. does not bode well for me. but thanks for your thoughts, as ever, heavy and thoughtful and helpful and beautifully put.