Since I've been setup with Netflix, my world of movie-watching has exponentially improved. First of all, for how many movies The Hubby and I watch, Netflix is much cheaper than rentals. Also, I have a hard time standing at the library and browsing through drawers-full of DVDs and Blu-rays. They are listed alphabetically instead of by genre, and so I find myself looking at more titles that I would never ever watch than what I might give a try, and by the time I get through only two drawers I'm ready to give up. And with Netflix you don't have to load and unload discs. That might seem a trivial thing, but when you go through as many movies as I do, skipping this step saves a lot of time and frustration.
I'm also finding a lot more movies (and TV shows) that I would have never seen otherwise (such as the one I'm highlighting today which first aired in the UK) and I want to share them. So part of my new blogging regimen is going to include more movie-talk. I'm still technically on hiatus right now (I know, I keep saying that), but I thought I'd give you all a movie rec to check out in my absence.
2007; a BBC One made-for-TV movie
based on the 1936 novel, Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
genre: childrens' drama
offensive/harsh language? none
sexual content or innuendo? none
romantic elements? limited (between adult characters)
diversity? limited (non-nuclear family; minor characters of varying nationalities)
tags: ballet, theater, performing arts, orphans, 1930s historical
This is the story of three orphan girls adopted by an eccentric explorer and his also-orphaned niece (now grown up). They are given the same surname, Fossil, and raised as sisters even though they have absolutely zero blood relation to each other.
While the rich explorer is off on expeditions, the money at home is quickly dwindling, and Sylvia, the girls' legal guardian, opens up a few rooms to rent in their huge house. It is through these new renters that the potential of the orphan girls is finally given a spotlight. Through mutual efforts of all four newcomers, plus the girls' guardians, the three of them begin training in the performing arts.
Posy, the youngest (pictured middle in the image above), focuses on ballet. Her biological mother had left her a pair of pointe shoes, and it is her dream to one day be big enough and talented enough to dance in those shoes.
Pauline, the oldest (pictured right), excels in all of the arts -- dance, vocals, theater -- but her first love is theater. She then goes on to audition for paying roles, which helps in the financial situation at home.
Petrova, the middle sister (pictured left), doesn't really care for any of the arts, but goes along with it because she has such a big heart. She also auditions for paying roles to help bring in more money. But her real dream is to be a pilot.
And that's what the gist of this sweet story is about-- finding and reaching your dreams. All three of the girls, at different times, are faced with direct challenges to their dreams, and must make difficult choices to either achieve them, or give them up.
I also like the message of being true to your own identity. Just because you are raised in the same household doesn't mean you are all built from the same mold. Each girl is a unique individual, yet also recognizes her role as part of the same group-- family.
I highly recommend this movie for both children and adults.
Yes, I'm still on hiatus. This felt important enough to share.
Many of us who write kid lit have children. I am one of those people. In fact, I wanted to have a clan of kids, but I ended up with only one. I was pregnant three different times, gave birth only once. After losing a second baby and trying a stint of hormone supplements and still not seeing any results, I decided my body was telling me it's time to move on to a new phase of my life. The one where I only have one child and I appreciate that one miracle child is more than some people will ever have.
The older my son gets, the more I realize all the things I need to be for him, most of which are things that my parents weren't for me. My younger sister had her first child seven months ago. She and I have always talked about things in our childhood that were supremely f*cked up (it's a form of sister therapy, I guess), but since she had her own kid, many of those talks have translated into how we are going to make sure we do better for our kids.
And the main thing? Is just talking to them. Letting our kids know that they can ask us anything and not get in trouble for simply asking about a possibly touchy subject. Letting our kids know that, even if we don't have all the answers, we'll do our darnedest to help them find what they're looking for.
My parents were not the worst parents on record, not even close. I would say their viewpoint and behavior was average for their generation. But as a kid, you don't really think about that in the moment. Most of my memories revolving around my own education of the world were... lonely. And scared. I was afraid to talk to my parents. I was afraid to ask questions. I got the bulk of my information from my siblings, friends, teachers, television, and later, the Internet.
And I got myself into trouble because of it. And even then, I didn't approach my parents. I hid everything from them, including the pain and fear, until it crippled me.
I don't want that for my son. Yes, he's going to talk to other people about things and that's okay. But I want him to feel like he can ask me questions, too.
I want him to have an open door.
The very first time he asked me about the differences in anatomy between a boy and a girl, he was in Kindergarten. I answered every question he asked until he was satisfied and/or tired of the topic. Since then, we've had several discussions on similar topics.
He's eight years old now. For the first time ever, a few weeks ago, he asked me what "gay" means. Because we already had a foundation of frank conversations behind us, I was able to explain homosexuality in way he understood. Then I asked him, very plainly, where he heard that word.
I may have said it. His dad may have said it. He may have heard it on TV. He may have heard a fellow student or neighborhood kid say it. If I don't know why he's asking me a question, it's almost as bad as him not asking me at all.
I am not with my child 24/7. He has peers, and I don't know what kind of households those peers are coming from. So it's my responsibility to make sure he knows that sometimes people say things in a derogatory way and that's not okay, even if it's just a joke. This is true for religion, race, sexual orientation, gender, appearance, everything. It is not okay to joke about someone being Jewish, or having a well-padded behind, or about boys kissing boys.
My son is also allowed to "play" on the Internet without constant supervision. He isn't in private, but I don't hang over his shoulder, either. This inevitably exposes him to things that are the sole reason many parents don't allow their kids on the Internet at all.
But withholding something completely is never the right answer, at least in my opinion. When you take something away, the child doesn't really grasp why you feel it's wrong, and their curiosity is piqued even more now.
We can't put our kids in a bubble until they graduate high school and then expect them to be able to function in the world. We just can't. From the time they're able to walk and talk, their entire childhood is training for adulthood. Everything we do and say is meant to prepare them to make their own decisions. How can they make their own decisions if we decide everything for them?
It's very easy to say this and nod your head, but when it's your kid, it's the hardest thing in the world. Even so, I'm glad that my son has been exposed to things like foul language and violence and the occasional lewd comment or innuendo in a movie that we didn't see coming. When these things happen, they are teaching experiences.
There is nothing in life that we learn to navigate without trial and error. Nothing.
If my son is watching a video on YouTube and someone drops an F-bomb, he immediately stops the video without having to be told.
If something outrageously violent shows up on a TV show or movie he's watching, he immediately changes it or advances it to the next scene, without having to be told.
If he hears about something at school that he doesn't understand, he asks about it as soon as he gets home. I swear, it's almost daily now. Mom, what's this word mean? Mom, why is it wrong to do such-and-such? Etc, etc.
These are things I couldn't have realistically expected of him if I didn't allow him to be exposed and let him think it over himself and make mistakes. It's not our job to constantly tell our kids no no no. It's our job to teach them how to decide for themselves. Because the older they get, the less time they spend with us. You have to start as early as possible.
My son is also obsessed with boobs. So a lot of our discussions have been about how to be respectful to girls and women. (And yes, I call them boobs. I don't find that word offensive. Breasts sounds too clinical.)
The poor boy had a minor freakout when he realized he's starting to get some fuzz in certain areas. He really hates body hair, so he asked me if he could shave it. I've already caught him shaving his budding mustache before--I wouldn't put it past him to shave something else, and that could be dangerous. After a long talk it became clear that he just doesn't want to be different from the other boys at school. He doesn't want to be made fun of for physically maturing before they do.
He's eight. Am I being too open with him about things? Am I stealing his innocence? I don't think so. I remember what it was like to be that age, and it was natural to question everything. If he doesn't get the information now, he'll make poor decisions later.
I did not have this open door with my parents, and my teen years suffered for it.
Our kids are going to grow up no matter what we do. So... what are we doing?
And this is why I hate book censorship so much, especially when it comes to sex in YA. But that's another post for another day.
Second, while I'm still tweeting... not daily, but regularly, I'm going to have to continue the blog hiatus until around the middle of June. This is due to a combination of some family obligations coming up in the next few weeks, and needing some time to rest my brain after finishing the first draft of this novel.
So I hope you all don't mind a few more weeks of silence. Because after that, this blog is going back into high gear, just like old times.