21 July 2007

It's All Fun & Games Until Somebody Puts an Eye Out.

I, apparently, have lost a shitload of childlike wonder over the course of my life.

This was confirmed by watching The Last Mimzy with the offspring the other day. It was a wonderful, magical movie. Any of you who don't agree, please note that I make no claims toward being a good movie or book critic. You want a comprehensive review, you'd best check in with Lorraine or Eric or someone. That is not what this post is about anyway. It is about my reaction to the film, in particular, the aforementioned loss of childlike wonder.

I mean, it's no newsflash that I tend toward the cynical, that sarcasm is actually in my DNA strands, on both sides of the family. I've passed that shit on, too: the offspring are all about a well-timed sarcastic remark.

Little smartasses.

So I'm no Pollyanna. Like I need that warped reality in my life.  Even so, I had a decidedly grown-up reaction to the film. And not in a good way. It seriously annoyed the hell out of me that those kids did not go to an adult, namely their parents, for help. I mean it pretty much pissed me off. I wanted to slap the nincompoopery right out of their heads. I couldn't keep my mouth shut about it. I kept making all kinds of sarcastic comments, like "Dude, it's called a seizure, go get your friggin' MOM!" My kids were like, "See, you're like one of the grown ups in books who can't see magic anymore."


This sucks, because when reading books of that nature, don't we all still identify with the protagonist? Don't we all still believe in magic, at least for the time we're lost between the covers of the book? Who wants to identify with the parent who can't see the magic? Or worse, the parent who won't even believe the kids?
Nevertheless, while watching The Last Mimzy, I kept bouncing back and forth between "Ooh, cool!" and "OhmyGAWD, will you go get your friggin' Mom before you put out an eye with that thing?!"

I mean, I'm sorry, but you find something washed up on the beach that is obviously behind some seriously supernatural shit, you don't just slide it under your bed and figure that you, out of all people in the universe, a five- or ten-year-old child, have a handle on that shit.  Please.  These are the kinds of the kids who will be reaching into bonfires to rescue dud firecrackers in a few years.

Still.  Even the knowledge that I am, of course, absolutely right, did not stop me from being disturbed by my strong reaction. So much so, that I later tried to psychoanalyze myself, with the help of a generous glass of cabernet.  I came to the conclusion that I was basically projecting the Mimzy kids and their safety onto my own offspring. If my kids had also been saying things like "What the hell is that kid doing sticking her arm in there?! Does she want to lose a friggin' hand?!" I probably would've felt better. I could rest comfortably in the knowledge that my own offspring, upon finding some crazy, supernatural shit on the beach, would come to me and say,

Hey, Anyu, come check out this crazy, supernatural shit we found washed up on the beach. It looks kind of cool, but it could be dangerous, and if I disappear through a wormhole or something, I want someone to know what happened so they can bring my ass back. And look, I've put on my helmet.

They would say this, because I've done a bang-up job in raising the little hellions and they are on a bright and successful path to the future, unfettered by the peer pressure of their clueless little friends or the influence of the media.

So not a Pollyanna here, people.

Parenthood drives us out of the magical realm. It transforms us from adventurer to protector. It shows us danger where we once saw only excitement.

Hey, we rationalize, somebody has to watch out for the little angels' best interest, somebody has to safeguard their future, because they're sure as hell not doing it for themselves. They're too busy atomizing body parts in a magic sphere because a magic toy told them it was okay.

Can grownups really not see magic? Is it just the parent thing that does it, or is it all of us? And does it come back, like when we're grandparents, once the protector role has fallen to the parents who were our children? Actually, is that why aunts and uncles and grandparents are "the cool ones", because they can leave the protecting to the fun-sucking parents, and still see the magic?

I wasn't always a grownup.

When I'm with my friends, or lost in my own book, I'm not a fun-sucker. If my kids could've known me as a kid, we'd have had a blast. We could've sneaked down a manhole cover, or climbed out of an elevator between floors, or flown down the steepass hill that was Winding Way Road on a tandem bike with no hands.

It must start with that first, "Hold on tight!" when we reluctantly release the big-girl swing and let her fly out alone, unprotected. The magical realm slips farther away until, by the time she's in another city, riding the metro alone at night, magic is barely visible at all, beyond the threatening mist that surrounds it.

I wasn't always a grownup. I hope it comes back when I'm old.

Mimzy photo credit: popmatters.comGrownups Are Obsolete photo credit: John Tsombikos (graffiti artist, Borf)


  1. I saw this movie sitting in a hotel room while Steve clicked away on his computer. While I wasn't quite as moved as you, it did make me ponder if I ever was a kid full of wonder and imaginatation. I was not. sling is right; grandkids came bring it back. The most fun I have had this year was riding the merry-go-round and pretending with Sachi that our horses were real and yelling giddayup. I bought Sachi a snow globe with a carousel horse inside and it played sweet music too.

  2. I'm only laughing because I had the exact same reaction to that movie.. And nearly the same train of thought.

    GO GET YOUR MOM!!!!!!!!!!!

    Aw hell, am I a total drag now?

    The magic is still there- just look at your pictures dear.

    But the pragmatic Mom person that needs to make sure the little ones are safe sometimes has to be in charge.. It's hard wired into most of us once we give birth. Look at it as a protective cog in the universe. If not, what mayhem would the little shits get into??

  3. L: goodgravy, who the hell has time for profound? And who the hell has time to come up with a name for their support group? I like it. Thanks.

    Sling: good. But I hope I am a good long time away from that. I'd better be, or they're in bigass trouble. College first, dammit.

    R: Well that's good to know. I'll have to wait for the 2nd child to finish all her college and hopefully have some life first -- the eldest is anti-child with a vengeance, which is fine with me. And I don't want them getting married too young -- been there, rode that train to nowhere.

    DL: Mayhem is right. Yeah, I also was SO ANNOYED with the brother's bossiness and knowitallness toward li'l sis until her obvious skill level shut him up. I couldn't keep my mouth shut about that either. -sigh- But seriously. Kids: people will actually think you know more if you're not constantly trying to prove what a bigshot you are. Sheesh!

  4. ..well of course it's a good long time away!...Ya think magic comes in cereal boxes?..sheesh.. ;)

  5. Sling: it does in Lucky Charms...

  6. I thought I lost my magic, and I found it this year--- And Im still a mom.

    The truth is you cant protect them and you have to let them go and a little magic just makes that a bit better for me.

  7. A non-owner of children who's pretty receptive to the magical is tempted to put a tick in the "it's a Mom thing" box. But then, above person wonders if it's not about the magical but about special effects and cheap leaps of logic to get to the action in a movie and the magical trivialized because for chrissake, one thing that OUGHT to be scary is suddenly having magic put in your hands (dramatically speaking). You know, the old 'with magic comes responsibility."

    One can wonder all one wants, but maybe it is a Mom thing. Ha!

  8. OH, I hope you get your 'innocence' back. I haven't had children, so I guess my magic, or whatever, has been preserved.

  9. No kids here, but I still hate movies about kids who get themselves into all kinds of trouble that could have been avoided by a little parental intervention.

    Reading your post, I notice that all the great stories put their heroes and heroines in zero-parent situations: Snow White gets the evil stepmother, Harry Potter is an orphan from birth, etc. But yeah, when Mom and Dad are around and competent -- GO GIT YER FRIGGIN' MOM.

  10. What a remarkable post- great insights into parenting for this childless reader.
    I'd wager that you'll find the magic again.


I've got a fever ...