A Week of Lessons Learned (and it’s Only Wednesday)

I called my daughter last night to say goodnight. She’s on spring break, and we aren’t, so she’s spending a few days at Grandma’s house.

This morning at Grandma's.

This morning at Grandma’s.

Me: “I know it’s early, but I’m really tired so I’m going to bed and wanted to say goodnight.” [Note that this was 8:30 and I had already fallen asleep reading. The only reason I was awake to make the phone call was the dogs woke me to go outside.]

Sarah: Oh . . . I’m . . . um . . . I’m scared.

Me: What? Why are you scared?

Sarah: Never mind, good night.

Me: No, Sarah. Tell me why you’re scared.

Sarah: Because of the bombs.

I wish I could say that I stepped up and had a brilliant moment of parenting at that time, but that would be a lie. As my heart broke and my arms yearned to take her in a never-ending hug, I tried my best to say the right things; to tell her I understood her fear, but that she was safe and that they would catch whoever had done this.

I tried to say the right things, but the words tasted like dust in my mouth, because in some ways they are lies. I cannot promise to protect her from every evil out there, just as mothers all over the world cannot protect their children from the bombs and bullets that plague them. I cannot protect her from every individual who somehow values his/her personal beliefs over the lives of others.

I cannot protect her from it all, unless I lock her in a cave and never let her out.

Last week I wrote a post called “‘Crood’ Lessons” , where I discuss some of the positives and negatives of the movie. Who would have thought that the lessons from that movie would carry over into this week?

You see, the father, Grug, tries to keep his family safe by keeping them in a cave. He only lets them leave for food. Yet, even the safety of that cave isn’t perfect. When he and his family have to move on in search of something else (in his mind another cave) he learns that its more important to live life than to hide in safety and never do anything.

“Never be afraid . . . follow the light.”

I called Sarah this morning just after I discovered this connection by writing in my Morning Pages. I finally had a metaphor to use to help her. I told her fear was okay, as long as we didn’t let it stop us from living. We talked about the movie. I think she understood.

“What are you all doing today,” I asked.

“Making fairy houses,” Sarah said.

One of the fairy houses Sarah built for our back hill last fall.

One of the fairy houses Sarah built for our back hill last fall.

Life moves on.

As it should.

This week is full of the lessons that we must learn; about resilience and life, about caring for each other, about never giving up, about kindness and strength. This morning I saw this  post on my Facebook feed, posted by a girl named Laura Wellington who was 1/2 mile from the finish when the bombs exploded. The words underneath are hers:

Please help me by sharing this! As some of you know, I was 1/2 mile from the finish line when the explosion went off. I had no idea what was going on until I finally stopped and asked someone. Knowing that my family was at the finish line waiting for me, I started panicking, trying to call them. Diverted away from the finish line, I started walking down Mass Ave towards Symphony Hall still not knowing where my family was. Right before the intersection of Huntington, I was able to get in touch with Bryan and found out he was with my family and they were safe. I was just so happy to hear his voice that I sat down and started crying. Just couldn’t hold it back. At that moment, a couple walking by stopped. The woman took the space tent off her husband, who had finished the marathon, and wrapped it around me. She asked me if I was okay, if I knew where my family was. I reassured her I knew where they were and I would be ok. The man then asked me if I finished to which I nodded “no.” He then proceeded to take the medal off from around his neck and placed it around mine. He told me “you are a finisher in my eyes.” I was barely able to choke out a “thank you” between my tears. Odds are I will never see this couple again, but I’m reaching out with the slim chance that I will be able to express to them just what this gesture meant to me. I was so in need of a familiar face at that point in time. This couple reassured me that even though such a terrible thing had happened, everything was going to be ok.

This post–along with  so many others that tell of kindness in the face of cruelty–reinforces the idea that we cannot hide in a cave and hope the bad things don’t touch us. No . . . we must face the sun, move bravely through life, and battle the evil with our hearts open.

Even if that battle simply comes in the form of building fairy houses.

Today I have this message and wish for you, my readers, my friends, my loved ones. I hope that you live each and  every day with love and joy. I hope that you raise your voices in kindness and together we can combat any darkness that comes our way.

Let’s all stay out of the caves and follow the light.

“Crood” Lessons

Yesterday Sarah and I went to see The Croods.

Image found at IMDb

When I first saw a preview of this movie, I had no desire to go. The figure of the daughter (named Eep), the rebel teen who initiates the journey this family goes on (aided and abetted by a natural disaster as the earth moved) disturbed me. Not her character, so much, as the fact that she was drawn as a completely sexy, and possibly unrealistic, body type–thus supporting stereotypes of women that need to be confronted in our culture. When I begin worrying that an animated character is about to bust out of her clothing (pun intended) then there’s a problem.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of the people who believes that if a woman dresses to feel sexy she’s asking to become a victim. My concern lies more with the contrast between how this character was presented and how the others were presented. I have no problem with her being a little aggressive as she discovers her attraction to the first unrelated male she sees. I have no problem with her desire to be more independent and break free of the unrealistic and controlling restrictions laid on her by an overprotective father. I have no problem with her trying to express herself as an individual separate from her family.

The only thing I have a problem with is the fact that her animators created her as an ideal sexualized woman, with large breasts and a dress that just barely covered her lady bits. I have a problem with the message this sends to my 10-year-old daughter–a message about appearance and dress that she doesn’t need to see.

The mother in this movie is–in my opinion–sexy because she exhibits strength, caring, power, and intelligence. That to me is true sexiness.  I agree that women should be able to dress in whatever makes them feel comfortable, confident and happy. To me there is a big difference between being sexy and being sexualized. Sexy comes from feeling confident in who we are  as women, in believing that we have many things to offer including brains, beauty, ideas, words, and kindness.

Sexualized is the type of sexy laid onto us by society. It is the picture of a woman who has little more to offer than the physical beauty  of her body.

I agree that women’s bodies are beautiful, and we should not have  fear of sharing that beauty. However, we all know that true beauty comes from other things as well. Eep’s journey had nothing to do with her appearance. It had to do with learning to love and respect her father despite their differences in perceiving the world. Actually, this movie wasn’t about Eep’s journey. It was about her father, Grug, who  had to learn the message “Never be afraid. Follow the light.” Grug’s journey was of discovering that he could learn, change, grow and have ideas. He learned that life is truly about taking chances, not hiding  in the darkness and safety of a cave.

Perhaps Eep’s appearance represents the wildness of taking chances. However, that message could have come across if she appeared more like your average, every day cave-teen, without all the sexualized curves.

I hope Sarah knows that beauty and true sexiness comes from the inside. But for now, I just want her to enjoy being a 10-year-old girl.

Sarah's eyes

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