Consequences, eh

10/25/09 at 6:31 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I’m finding one of the more difficult parts of parenting is having my children understand the concept of consequences.  Unfortunately (or not?) I let mercy and perhaps laziness sometimes put aside intended discipline for a child who misbehaves.  All they end up seeing is that they got away with something, and the worse they had to put up with may have been some yelling.

I suppose parents have been wrestling with this problem for millenia, and end up getting frustrated over the lack of respect from them, the backtalk and unwillingness to stop the misbehavior.  I can also see how parents over the millenia have lost their temper and beat the snot out of the kids.  I try not to discipline while angry, but there are times when the line is crossed.  This is my cry (to myself?) for consistency, as it is an effective tool for helping children understand consequences.

This morning I’ll be teaching my third graders about the concept/origins of sin and Satan’s role in temptation.  We went through the story of Adam and Eve last week, and today we’ll review how Jesus faced temptation.  I plan on showing the beginning of The Passion of the Christ.  Even though Satan is not mentioned in the Bible as tempting Jesus in the garden, it’s a great scene showing how the devil operates, and my spirit is lifted every time I see Jesus crushing the snake.   Amen!

One consequence I’m struggling with now is my relationship with Joey (middle son).  We did not get off to a good start nearly three years ago.  He is introverted so it’s more of a challenge to get him to open up.  He adores his older brother yet is (at best) ambivalent about his biological younger sister.  You would expect them to be close, but that’s not the case.  He’ll play with her sometimes but more often than not he gets aggravated by her.  Part of it is just the annoyance of a younger girl, and part of it is she can be desperate to find somebody to play with (and she can be very bossy/domineering).

To help my bond with Joey I decided to take just him to the movies.  This somewhat upset his older brother (as expected), but if I had taken both then Joey would have clung to Josh and I would be left out.  I had wanted to take him to see Astro Boy but it was not playing at the local theater here.  The only “good” option here was Where the Wild Things Are.

MOVIE REVIEW – Where the Wild Things Are

Like most parents I’m familar with the very short story, and wondered how somebody could make a whole movie out of some kids’ dream.  Well, they did manage to make a movie, and there were some things from the short story in the movie.  Otherwise it turned out to be a waste of two hours and twenty bucks.  If you’re seven years old you may not care about the reasons things happen  in the flow of a story, or how a ten year old boy can get away with lieing, destroying things and biting people.

You could speculate as to the movie’s intention of being made for kids, but the symbolism of the “wild things” Max encounters and the relationships they all struggle with go way above the heads of the kids.  This is by no means escapist fare or an enjoyable kids movie.  Therapists and psychologists will probably have this on their Christmas list.  While I did not ask him directly, I doubt Joey understood that the time Max spent with the wild things was all a dream, as he probably thought Max actually got in a boat and sailed across the ocean.

To make things worse there are no “dad” roles in the film.  It’s either kids, monsters or mom.  In WTWTA, Max has an older sister where they are being raised by a struggling single mom.  There’s no explanation about dad or lack of one.  After some destructive behavior by Max in the beginning (he’s mad at his sister) being glossed over by mom, Max is in his room playing.  He goes downstairs to get his mom, only to find out she’s entertaining a male “friend” and they are about to have dinner.  Max acts up, disobeys mom and ends up biting her hard on the shoulder.  As she falls on the floor, male friend pops his head in the kitchen and says “Hey, he shouldn’t be doing that”.  Duh.  Max runs away, finds a ship and sails to wild things island.

The wild things, about a half dozen of them, turn out to be different components of Max’s personality.  He gets to deal with them individually as well as trying to unite them and make them happy after he is crowned king.  There was some things that happened that did not make sense, such as how big monster hands with claws could make intricate dioramas, as well as nobody seemed to need to eat or drink, but the mad dash around the woods and island took up most of the time.

SPOILER ALERT – After Max leaves the island, sails back and then runs home, he opens up the front door to a dark quiet house.  No police on “Amber alert”, nobody out looking, nobody waiting at the door, it was just another night.  He goes around to check a few rooms and finally finds his mom.  No words are spoken.  She just hugs him, serves up a big ol’ piece of chocolate cake, watches him from across the counter and falls asleep while he eats.  The end.

AAaargh!  Where’s the consequences!  Yeah, we’re all happy at the tearful reunion, but there’s no discipline handed out from the parent, no remorse from the child.  I suppose you could liken this to the forgiveness the Lord offers us.  As disobedient children we run away from Him, yet He patiently waits for us with a reward when we return.  We still need to show repentance, though, and we should not be surprised to be disciplined.

I would warn parents to not waste your time watching this with your children or buying the movie for them.  Wait until it comes out on TV and watch it for free if you must, though you’ll regret wasting the time.  I wish Astro Boy had been playing in town.  Ah well, I hope Joey appreciated the time we spent together, even if part of it involved a bad film.  That would be a good consequence.

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