Sunday, May 4, 2008

Bad, bad Mama

My daughter has a large stuffed penguin she got from her Auntie. The penguin is conveniently transgendered (some days he's a he; other days, he's a she). She loves him/her to distraction. "Penguiny" rides in the car with us (buckled into "hir" own seat, no less), and last week was taken to the local farmer's market in "hir" own pink plastic stroller (impressively, my daughter dealt with the annoyances of the stroller--wheels that jiggle erratically, a tendency to fold without warning and dump its occupant into the street, dirtying "hir" feathers and treacherously tripping "hir" pusher--without a murmur of complaint).

Like her sparkly red shoes, which generated lots of questions about Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz, Penguiny attracts the attention of strangers, nearly all of whom ask, "Has she seen 'Happy Feet'?"


Today, on our outing to replace the ballet and tap shoes she outgrew in less than 6 months, I decided to pick up "Happy Feet" for us to watch together. One of our weekend rituals is to make homemade pizza with lots of veggies and to eat it together watching a special show. And my question is this: Had any of those well-intentioned folks ever seen the damn movie?

My sister used to make me laugh by referring to the "therapy journal" she was keeping for her daughter, in which she recorded everything she did that might usefully become fodder for her daughter's future therapist. You know, "And, when I was a child, my mother used to ...." "Mmmm hmmmm....And how did that make you feel?" [My sister still makes me laugh, btw; I just haven't heard about the therapy journal for a while. But I'm off topic again. Such is life.]

Well, the "Happy Feet" experience is one for the therapy journal, big time. First she cried because the egg rolled away from the Papa. Then she cried when the egg was slow to hatch. Then when the baby penguin couldn't find his mama. Again when the flock of evil birds tormented Mumble and threatened to eat him. And when he fell down into an ice cave. And when he was menaced by a huge, saber-toothed seal (is this zoologically accurate?), and kidnapped by the same gang of foul-mouthed fowl and dropped from a great height--at which point, after making sure he was still alive, we turned it off.

WTF?? I was worried that she'd be upset by his ostracism; it hadn't occurred to me that I was unleashing some sort of "National Geographic: Nature Red in Tooth and Claw" upon her. It took two helpings of jello and a Thomas the Tank Engine video to restore her to some semblance of emotional balance.

We'll try watching the film together again....When she's 30.



At 4:04 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

and you didn't get to the part where the killer whales flip the penguin around for awhile. (orcas do actually 'play' with prey before they kill it). its gruesome.
check out:
kids-in-mind is awesome.
i think its good, in this day and age, to have a child who is still disturbed by violent images.

At 6:38 AM , Blogger Dorcasina said...

Anon--thanks! That's a great resource. Ordinarily, I'm much more careful about what she watches (Thomas, Magic Schoolbus, Angelina Ballerina, ballet, Bob the Builder), but in this case, I (foolishly) assumed that the kindly strangers had a grain of sense. Never again!

At 6:39 AM , Blogger Dorcasina said...

And yes, overall I am happy that she's still so sensitive to violence, and so upset by it. It confirms for me the reasons why I am (usually! with a few glaring exceptions!) so vigilant about her viewing.

At 12:29 PM , Blogger Julia said...

I haven't seen the movie yet. My daughter had-- with my sister. She came home to say that Mumble was awesome, but the movie was very very scary. Yet, she is such a song and dance girl that that part outweighed the scary parts for her.
Later, my sister also gave her a remote control Mumble. Great fun was had by many for a while. The damn batteries don't last long, though.

At 3:51 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your reaction was what all the reviewers said when the movie was released. It might be a good idea from now on to cut out new movie reviews and save them for dvd rental.
On the other hand, I remember seeing Bambi in the theater and crying when the mother died in the fire but, I survived to be a well?? functioning adult. Best wishes to your daughter.

At 11:35 PM , Blogger A said...

I can't remember why, but I took one of my daughters to see Happy Feet in a movie theater. As a treat. She is not nearly as sensitive as my other daughter, but it was too much for her and we left before the end. And I felt bad. But over all I find it very hard to discern what will be too scary. Some days it is the mean uncle in Care Bears. Other days the early Harry Potter movies are fine. Not a lot of rhyme or reason.

At 2:14 PM , Anonymous Lynnette said...

Ha! I had someone tell me her 2 year old loved that movie, but glad to know it isn't appropriate for my 2 year old! I had the same experience with Ratatouille (sp?). That movie was the first time I've ever heard my daughter ask me to turn the TV off.


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