Wednesday, March 30, 2011

it's okay to be different when...

A few weeks ago, I showed Beauty and the Beast to the boys. We're too lazy to have a TV - or rather, to police one, sneer at it, and usefully deconstruct it for the kidlets. (literally and otherwise) But once in a great while, we creep out of our lazy Luddite cave to try something like this. As predicted, the Toddles bolted for the futon, hid behind his father - and eventually tugged the Man up and away from the overwhelmingness

Could we have a story, instead?

But the Eldest was enthralled. Wanted to talk about why the Beast was drawn that way, so that he's scarier looking there and why Gaston eats all of those eggs - is he serious? and just - stare. And stare, frowning slightly - then hugely relieved - then curled into me, waiting. Oh! he said, watching Gaston fall into the castle depths. I wasn't expecting that. And grinned.

The next morning, when the Toddles crept out of hiding, the Eldest was still locked onto the movie. And, apparently, so was his brother. Forget the Beatles, forget the Black Eyed Peas - and even They Might Be Giants. No Little Richard or Benny Goodman - we've even sworn off Trout Fishing in America for now (not for long, kids - please? not for long?), while the Beauty and the Beast album is on endless loop. Play the Beauty and the Beast music! the back seat insists. Go get the mob song - it's missing from the iPod! 

And, don't sing along, Mum - you are getting between me and the words. 
Right. Sorry, kid. (hrrumph)

Eventually, the cross-eyed stares melted into something else.  By the nth repetition of the mob song, the shorter one was looking thoughtful.

Why are they afraid of things they don't understand? the Toddles asked, and ruthlessly, waited for my reply.  I tried to explain about how things in the dark are scarier than in the daytime, things you don't know can be scarier than things you do know - or can figure out - and he weighed my reply carefully. That makes sense, he conceded.

Actually, I'm afraid of Gaston, he confided. The Beast has scary drawing, but Gaston really *is* scary. 

I nodded. Deep, soul-certain self-centeredness is absolutely scary. I told the kid so, and he looked sad. Yes, he said. That's why we learn about derech eretz, right?

The next day, the Eldest passed by the mob song, choosing instead Belle's theme song. He listened to it once, twice, brushing off my rather paltry 'different but special' routine. No, Mum, he said, suddenly. Listen to it. They [the townspeople] call her odd, and strange, and say that she doesn't fit in. But it's not until Gaston says that he wants to marry her that they say that she's different but special. And that's only because they like Gaston, see?

I did see. Difference is only special if someone is willing to value it - or you.

We don't like what we don't understand, eh? I suggested. In the back seat, a kid nodded. So, perspective matters? or understanding?

Both, he told me. Firmly. He had reason to know.

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