I wrote about Gloomy Gus and his strong will in my last post. I actually think that it’s very difficult to be a teenager–strong-willed or not–because they are in a transition time in which they aren’t a child but not yet an adult, reaching for adulthood but still holding on to childhood things, knowing more about life but they haven’t really experienced it yet. It’s hard for parents too, letting go of their little baby. As a Mom, sometimes I want to strangle my son, but most of time I enjoy him immensely.
Anyway, I got to thinking about what I love about my family today.
One of the many things I love about my family is that we all love storytelling and we tell stories often. I remember when JJ was little, and I was babysitting a couple of girls, and they all used to come out to the kitchen and ask “What are we having for lunch?” I’d say, “Food.” They’d say, “What kind of food….” I got tired of being asked the same question multiple times every day, so I decided to get creative:
“What are we having for lunch?”
“What kind of food?”
“Boiled shark with guano sauce and seaweed.”
“Fried kangaroo and lizard eggs.”
“Roasted Yak and fire ants.”
“Eeew. Yuck! We are NOT really having that for lunch!”
A few years ago, I got tired of JJ asking me questions like “Who is that man?” or “What’s he doing?” or “What is he doing THAT?” as we drove down a road in a completely unfamiliar area where I could not possibly know the man or what he was doing or why. So I started replying with things like, “That’s Fred’s wife’s cousin’s brother’s friend Ralph.” Often EJ chimed in, “Yeah, didn’t Ralph live in the Alaskan wilderness for a while….” JJ would say, “That’s not who that is! You guys are making that up.”
EJ and JJ come up with their own stories. I think EJ could be a professional storyteller, he is so good. JJ is writing a book.
I also love that we love books. We have bookcases filled with books two and three books deep. We are always reading. Our Amazon wish lists could circle the earth three times. Maybe four times.
I love that we love movies. We are always quoting them to each other.
“OOOHHHH, look at that beautiful moon outside!”
“That’s no moon [awed voice] that’s a SPACE STATION.” (Star Wars)
“Keep a-moving, Preacher Man.” (Firefly series)
“Don’t you know that ‘Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering…’?” (Yoda, Star Wars)
We all watch movies together, so we all know the quotes from them. We love them.
We also appreciate how movies are film and we always learn from movies. We taught JJ at a young age about the elements of a story: setting, mood, foreshadowing, climax….And we taught him to decipher the message of the movie: Is the story and characters well-written and believable? Is what the character doing right? How does the person change through the movie? Are his choices wise? What is the message of the movie?
One of my favorite stories is when we watched Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame when JJ was little. I’ll never forget when we watched the scene where the hunchback was chained to the church in despair as the gypsy was tied to a post to be burned to death. A torch set the wood on fire, and the light of it lit up the hunchback’s face. JJ said, “That light is the hope dawning in the hunchback’s face.” And it was–at that point the hunchback began to struggle to save the girl. Quite perceptive for a 4 or 5 year old, which is what JJ was at the time.
All those years ago, JJ and I discussed the message of The Hunchback of Notre Dame as we watched it. The movie posed the question, “Which is the monster and which is the man?” Is the monster the one who physically looks like a monster but has a loving and humble heart or the one with the outward appearance of piety and respect but filled with hatred, hypocrisy, and cruelty? We had a wonderful discussion about the fact that it’s not what a person looks like on the outside that makes him a monster, but how he is on the inside. Right after we watched the movie, we went to our local gas station store, and there was a new cashier there who had a horribly disfigured face. It like it was a monstrous Halloween mask. He also had a hook instead of a hand. I had given JJ money to spend, and he bought candy, and without a word he bravely handed his money to the cashier, who took it with his hook hand. Scary for a young child. JJ thanked the cashier for his changed, and it wasn’t until we were outside that he asked, “What happened to him?” We found out later that he had been horridly burned in a car accident. We talked again about The Hunchback of Notre Dame–this time with a very true-life example.
Oh, I will end with my favorite scene from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I love this song: