Toy Story 3 – oh the tears…

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This morning I made the mistake of watching the end of Toy Story 3 with my daughter (yes we allow her watch TV in the mornings – bad parents). I say mistake as it was a dull, wet Monday morning and I had a serious case of PMS. I was crying over the smallest of things. Needless to say the heart-wrenching scene where Andy leaves his best friend Woody behind had me in floods of tears. I literally couldn’t hold in the emotion. My husband looked on bemused as my little girl (who was sitting on my lap) studied me intently; why was mama crying? Obviously she could not comprehend why mama was having a full on meltdown. There was so much hitting me right that I just managed to sob out ‘mama’s being silly’ before running for a box of tissues.

Woody, Buzz and the gang are almost like stand-ins for us parents in this film; watching as their once tiny children begin to out-grow their space in the family unit and need to forge their own path (for a little while at least). I watched my tiny lady wave as the end credits rolled up and felt so very thankful not to be Andy’s mum. I had years ahead yet before I was consigned to the sidelines of my daughter’s life. But there will come a period of time when she will be so focused on her own life and her own path that I may well be relegated to the attic as it where while she figures things out on her own. I’m not too worried. This is all a natural part of growing up and as heartbreaking as it can be our children know we are never far if they need us. And if we have done our job right they will come back to us; loving the security of family and home while they figure out their place in the world.

I felt as if I was watching Toy Story from both the perspective of parent and child. The child in me still remembers packing up for college….and hating every second of it. I was not like Andy. I didn’t want to leave my cosy family nest. I was homesick for months. I would never have given away my toys (one of which still resides in my now adult room upstairs – and he won’t be leaving until I do). I longed to put the challenges and perplexities of adulthood away for another year. I wasn’t ready for that step and it took me a long time to feel at ‘home’ away from my family. In fact it’s only since I got married and had my own child that I felt a sense of home again. I do still cry when leaving my parents (at the grand old age of 34) but I also look forward to getting back to my own space, my own nest. It’s taken a long time to get here but like all late bloomers I found my place in the end.

 

Confession Time Mums and Dads!

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My tiny lady was awake way too early
this morning. So after an hour of pretending to myself that she would go back to sleep, we went downstairs to watch TV…. or should I say to watch Bing! She was thrilled, I lay on the couch praying for the energy to make a coffee.

I watched an episode I shockingly hadn’t seen a dozen times and noticed a character I’ve become slightly intrigued by. She is the mother of Bing’s cousins Coco and Charlie. She never speaks and for a long time I actually didn’t know if she was male or female. I’ve decided female as she seems to have a bun in her hair – though you never know he could have a trendy man bun!

This character is seen at various times throughout the shows. Sometimes she can be glimpsed from afar dropping the cousins at Bing’s house. Today I actually saw her up close at the window! Well the excitement! Then…all my dreams came true…She spoke!!! She is a she! I had literally never heard her speak and well needless to say my day took a turn for the better.

It then occurred to me how utterly  uncool I’ve become since my pre – mum days. Obsessing over a character in a children’s tv show! But I wonder how many parents this happens to? They dealt with this topic in an episode of Modern Family recently when Manny became a bit too involved in one of Joe’s cartoons. It reminded me of how I used to secretly watch the end of My Little Pony episodes after my tiny lady went to bed. She didn’t care what happened after the intro song but I wanted to know what Pinky Pie was up to and how the gang would defeat evil this time!

Another thing I find funny is how we parents add extra details to shows. This will sound completely off the wall but my husband and I have decided that Flop (Bing’s father) is stringing along the two mothers in the show, dating each one and playing them off each other. Yes we are a little sad but it makes these sometimes mind numbing shows a little more interesting. We kind of enhance the watching experience by gossiping about the lives these characters might lead off – screen!

So I wonder how many other parents out there are willing to admit to becoming a little too interested in Justin’s relationship with Robert the Robot or end up in an impassioned debate over which My Little Pony is the coolest (this never happened I promise)! Fess up, please tell me we aren’t the only ones!

Is Elsa about to come out of the closet?

I was very interested to come across a campaign recently which is aiming to give Elsa from Frozen (a film every parent knows in their sleep) a girlfriend. What interested me most was not so much the campaign itself (though I do applaud their determination) but rather the strong backlash it faced when news of it broke. People were horrified to think that a Disney film would introduce sex…wait a minute no-one said anything about Elsa and her girl getting it on. The point of the campaign was to allow Elsa a girlfriend just as Anna is allowed a boyfriend.

Such comments that were posted online. How could Disney even consider such a thing! In the end it came down to the fact that Elsa’s female crushing would be too sexual for a Disney film. But why did everything have to come back to sex? Nobody seemed to take any issue with the fact that Anna has not one but two loves during the course of the original film. Oh but of course, my mistake, that’s not about sex, it’s love. Huh? So demonstrating a homosexual relationship on screen is sexual but showing a heterosexual one isn’t? Something just doesn’t add up here.

Another argument was that old chestnut- think of the children. They will be confused, they won’t know what’s going on – children are a lot more aware than we are. And a lot more accepting. If you introduce a concept to them, when they are young, and normalise it for them than they won’t have a problem with it. We create the attitudes of the young. They are not born to hate or judge.

I genuniely do not understand it when people argue against portraying homosexuality on screen due to the sensitivity of children. I would love my daughter to grow up in a world where it’s just as normal to see a gay couple on screen as it is a straight one; for it to be nothing unusual or news-worthy.When I was younger I remember the mortification when I innocently asked about a gay couple on the TV. It would be nice if this wasn’t even an issue for my daughter. Furthermore, it is important for children who identify as gay grow up with famous role models the same as straight children do. How wonderful for a young lesbian girl to grow up with an awesome role model like Elsa?

Of course I don’t expect attitudes to change over-night and unfortunately I reckon Disney will not turn one of their biggest money spinners into a subject for debate. We can legalise gay marriage but keep it behind closed doors thanks, seems to be the reaction of many punters. I, for one, would think it a great step forward for young boys and girls to see Elsa and her girlfriend just hanging out with Anna and Kristoff; no big deal, no drama just two young couples in love.

The old TV debate

I was listening to Brendan O’Connor on the radio this morning. The discussion was the lack of fresh air that children of today get. Apparently their access to fresh air is more limited than those who live in our state prisons. Of course the inevitable happened. On came a caller who announced to O’Connor (and the rest of the country) that her three children (all girls; six and four-year old twins) literally never watch television. They come in, take their coats off and go upstairs to colour and play. Note she never said they went outside, I was quick to catch this but her point seemed to be that it’s easy to go down this route. Her children never ask for the tv because guess what lazy parents it never even occurred to her to make television a part of their day. I mean she just never considered it an option! You could tell from his tone O’Connor was not impressed but he let her hang herself. She was careful to point out to us mere mortals that she wasn’t judging anyone, no she didn’t mind if others let their children watch five hours or more a day. Let me tell you the judgement undercut every word; you could hear it in her voice. She was dying for a pat on the back from O’Connor but he wasn’t biting. Instead he asked her if she had ever gone on a long journey (five hours for example) with her children. When she replied no, he insinuated that she didn’t know hell until she had done this and said there were times he wanted to kiss Steve Jobs’ feet! She played along but you knew she was really thinking; feck off Brendan I’d be playing spot the red car and singing jolly songs with my kids on a long journey.

Of course every so often she would reassure us that she wasn’t preaching, oh no we could do whatever worked for us. It’s the children she is concerned with. Parents introduce their children to TV then give out when that’s all they want to do. Oh parents would you not just think of the children? You are to blame. So in case you were listening to the show during the five minutes of the day when you felt like a good parent; fear not Lisa from South Dublin is here to remind you that you are not. Did you not know that children aren’t born knowing what a TV is? It’s all your fault, you bad little parent you!

Excuse my sarcasm but Lisa made me want to punch something. Most parents feel they are failing their children probably 95% of the time do we really want to start a war over whose child watches more TV? Why people like Lisa enjoy speaking down to the rest of us is anyone’s guess. Insecurity? Superiority complex? The high one gets from being absolutely smug while pretending not to be? Who knows? But I’m sure, once her interview ended, she sat expecting texts of praise and thanks for showing us crappy parents The Way! I didn’t get to hear anymore but I’ve a feeling Lisa will be waiting a while.

Fear not your child will not become an addict if you allow access to TV during the day. In fact they will probably grow up just like my generation whose own parents didn’t realise that watching The Den after school would have such deletrious effects. How could they have been so careless? I mean really! The point is we grew up watching TV and we turned out okay (mostly). Yes screens are more prevalent today and yes we do need to acknowledge this and try to set some sort of limits. But don’t feel bad if your child extends the time limits now and again (or you are feeling too tired to impose them). It happens. Repeat after me – you are not a bad parent, you are not a bad parent, you are not a bad parent! Ignore Lisa and anybody who else who tries to tell you how to parent. Do your own thing. You’ll be grand.