As I re-watch so many of the Disney movies from my childhood with my daughter, I smile or chuckle to myself at jokes I had never noticed before. Those one-liners or references are strategically mixed in to keep parents interested, as well as entertained. (Because let’s face it: they will be subjected to this movie a dozen, if not a hundred, times!) As I kid I either didn’t understand these moments in the movie or was so enchanted with a character or the storyline that I just didn’t catch them. Although I know the end of these classics, sharing them with my daughter now makes me feel as if I am watching them for the first time. It is refreshing.
The new era of Pixar movies, like ‘Up!’ or ‘Inside Out,’ seem to be as much adult animation films as they are kids’ movies. They don’t just have lines mixed in there to keep me entertained, but their message is so much deeper—emotional even. I have shed a tear at nearly all of them. Last night we watched the movie ‘Home’. It is about an alien (Oh) who is on the run from his own people and makes friends with a human girl (Tip). He tries to help her on her quest, but gets in the way constantly.
First off, I am a huge fan of the sitcom, ‘The Big Bang Theory.’ Therefore, anything with Jim Parsons I assume is going to be a slam dunk without even watching it. The alien is voiced by Mr. Parsons, and thus, they had my full attention once his first syllable was uttered. Second, this movie kept my nearly two year-old’s attention the ENTIRE time. I can’t name one thing that keeps her interested for over an hour. I am not sure if it was the bright animation, the lively voices, or the storyline itself that kept her intrigued, but she was enthralled.
As we watched the movie together I noticed something else was different about my daughter. Without completely spoiling the end of the movie for you, it made us believe one of the characters had died. As I looked over at my Cora, I noticed her lip jut out and quiver. Then tears formed in her eyes, eventually cascading down her plump little cheeks as she reached for my husband to console her.
She didn’t want the character to die! I was shocked.
She had gotten emotionally attached to something in an hour and had understood what was going on enough to burst into tears.
My baby experienced sadness.
Up until that moment I had assumed she had been sad before, but I now realize it was not in the same way. She cried now, not because I took away something she shouldn’t have or said no. It wasn’t a cry of disagreement or protest; it was a legitimate cry of sorrow. My heart broke, but my mind was in awe.
Every day I get a better grasp at how complex my little girl is becoming. Things I used to think went over her head she is catching on to. This is both scary and amazing. Scary because I am learning the words I use to vent my frustrations are going to be mimicked soon–not just said, but exclaimed in the correct context! Jokes aside, it is truly scary because I am getting a taste of how I can’t protect her from being sad or mad or unhappy. My seat on the sideline of her life is just starting.
While frightening, it is truly incredible to watch. I have a front row seat at seeing this little being I created (who came out as responsive as a baked potato!) start to feel feelings and be a little person.
Being a parent is this rollercoaster of fear, guilt, happiness, sadness, astonishment – you name it. This new stage Cora is entering is uncharted territory for me. But I look forward to seeing her develop into her own person and watching her grow.