Ok, so yes a lot has already been said about Pixar’s new film, Inside Out, regarding how it helps kids recognize their emotions, and how in turn helps parents when certain emotions arise. I am going to talk about what struck me the most as I watched this wonderful film, and I believe that it helped to watch the film alone.
Pixar has the magic touch when it comes to painting that fine line between kid and adult content. UP, for example, has left grown men and women in a puddle of their own tears only 5 minutes into the film. Finding Nemo never stops pulling at a parent’s heart-strings because we, too, would never stop searching for our kid. Inside Out was no exception. I think I cried about 5 times.
I watched it alone, so I didn’t have any distractions (bathroom trips, crying, shushing, you get the picture…). I was completely engrossed, and able to let myself take in the emotional life of an 11-year-old girl named Riley. So this is what struck me, and the reason why I wish I wore waterproof mascara (I looked like Alice Cooper by the time it was over):
All I can do as a parent is to be there for my kid, and to respect his feelings.
That’s it. I want him to be happy, but I cannot force happiness. I can only hope that happiness will appear between the hurt, anger, fear, and sadness that comes with growing up. It is so difficult to watch our kids in pain, and struggle with their feelings, but trying to change those feelings without letting them occur is unfair. All of this may seem very obvious, but I have found that this can get lost in the day-to-day. It is tough to just let emotions pour out of a kid like a fire hose, but breakdowns need to happen to build the strength to deal with whatever will come in the future.
The film showed all of this to me in a simple, tangible way, which made it relatable and brought on the waterworks. I related to watching the happy memories of Riley from when she was a baby and a toddler, and then cried when those memories were disappearing. I cried with Joy when she literally held forgotten memories and said, “I just want her to be happy”. The family hugs, the shared goofy times, the want to change Riley’s bad memories to good ones….all made my parental self…sad. I know my son will not remember every happy moment the way I will. I know that he will not always be happy. I know that I have no control over what he will think and feel. All I can do is be there for him, and help his emotions mature as he matures. I just hope my emotions are mature enough to handle it.