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.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

One day

Our world has been very full the last four months and every time I consider writing, I become overwhelmed with the sheer amount of what I want to share. To avoid that altogether, I'm starting with just one day: yesterday.

Yesterday morning found Cutter a little groggy, as he said he'd stayed up until 2:00 a.m., finishing the first volume of Elfquest. He'd gone through the entire series over a year ago, but that was before he was reading, so he wanted to revisit the comic and his namesake, Cutter, to get a better understanding of the story.

We watched a Japanese/English sub-titled episode of Naruto Shippuden; it was Cutter's first experience with sub-titles and he found that the Japanese version uses different voice actors, so the characters felt unfamiliar and we decided to wait to watch the rest of the episodes in English. Because Naruto eats so much ramen, Cutter was sure that it must taste good, which led us to look up authentic ramen recipes.

While looking up ramen recipes, I came across a French-made cartoon maker, so Cutter spent a good amount of time making cartoons with captions and sending them to Joe at work. It was fun for me to use some of my French and we were able to translate the phrases into English.

After that, our first stop was the Halloween store, where Cutter found a costume, Shadow Ice Ninja, which he's pretty sure (and pretty excited that) he'll be able to wear two years in a row. From there, we went over to the home goods store, where we found chopsticks for our ramen as well as a Japanese knife so we could cut the ramen dough into noodles. Next stop, the bookstore for a book of pizza recipes. Cutter and I have been making homemade pizza dough and pizza lately and he's thinking it would be a good idea to start selling our homemade pizza. He's got it figured out that we would need 1/4 of the necessary pizza-making ingredients on hand at any given time and that our ingredients should be healthy. We're going to test out different pizza recipes until we find favorites and then go forward with our business plan.

When we got home, a new video game had come from Gamefly in the mail, "Destroy All Humans." Cutter had fun figuring out the rules of the new game, which makes me think of this article a friend posted on video games.

We began our ramen adventure by watching a few instructables and an instructive, yet strange video of a Japanese woman cooking with a poodle. We chose to make a shiitake mushroom broth. We then added bamboo shoots, mushrooms, green peppers, scallions, noodles and hard-boiled egg, accompanied by Sesame Chicken. It looked pretty cool and the boy who in recent years has said, "bleh" to most new foods declared it pretty good. This was not the 99 cent ramen Americans are used to eating.

After dinner, we headed to a local Ag Silver concert with Joe. It was Cutter's first rock/pop concert and while he was quiet and serious-looking throughout the concert, he could be spotted clapping, singing along and afterwards said it was a really cool concert. Other days are less active, to be sure, but most are at least as learning filled and joyful as this one.