Like just about any parent, I want teach my children all the right things.
Don’t steal, lie or cheat.
Never give up.
Win with class, lose with grace.
Be a loyal friend.
Pour the milk first, then add the cereal (trust me on this).
Watch all the Disney movies.
This last one came into play the other day, but I hit a speed bump on the way to creating a full-fledged Disneyphile. My girls, Alexia and Talia, love Disney World. I mean, LOVE it. They ask us to go constantly, and if you follow my social media feeds at all, you know we make enough trips there already.
As far as the rest of the Disney empire, it’s hit or miss. They like, but don’t love, “The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.” However, we’ve had solid success with the movies they’ve seen. Of course, they each had their obsession with “Frozen”, and they both really enjoyed “The Little Mermaid.”
“Mulan” was a bit too intense for Alexia the first time, but there were no tears.
The movie that brought on the heavy-duty waterworks was the Disney/Pixar film I actually missed during its theatrical run: “Brave.”
I had heard great things about the movie and its heroine Merida. How it had a lovely message of self-reliance and female empowerment woven into its typically fun and thrilling Pixar tale. As a dad of two girls, that’s exactly the message I want my girls to buy into. I want them to be the heroine of their own story, and not look to be rescued (by anyone other than their dad, of course).
So when Alexia had her friend Charlotte sleep over last Friday, I said the movie night pick would be “Brave.” Alexia was very excited because she knew a little about Merida from her Disney doll collection and from seeing the Merida character at Disney World.
Once the movie started, it was going swimmingly. After the opening scene, where you think she just lost her dad, she was a bit nervous. But once you saw that her dad survived the bear attack, she had a smile on her face. In fact, she was laughing quite a bit at all the Scottish shenanigans happening at the castle. Something about watching grown men beat each other up is just hilarious for little kids.
And then, the big twist comes.
You know, the one where an angry Merida gets a spell from the local potionmaker and turns her mother into a bear!
I didn’t see that one coming, and at first, Alexia was OK with it. Meanwhile, Merida and her mom keep arguing, both standing their ground in another variation of the argument every mother and daughter have had since the start of time. And I notice Alexia is no longer having much fun watching the movie. She gets closer to me on the couch, holding my arm. Is she scared? Is the bear frightening her?
As I’m trying to figure out what she’s thinking, suddenly, she starts crying. not a few solitary tears. Streams of tears rolling down her adorable cheeks.
I asked her, ‘what’s wrong?’
And her answer was so unbearably sad and touching, i nearly joined her in the tear-fest. And I also silently cursed myself for not reading more reviews that mentioned the mother-daughter tension that fuels the plot of this blasted movie.
“Daddy,” Alexia whimpered, “Her mom is never going to turn back and Merida is going to not have her mom anymore. It’s so sad, this movie is making me cry!”
My little girl couldn’t bear to see Merida, this animated character, potentially face the rest of her life without her mom, because for her, there is no worse fate. This movie was presenting her worst nightmare right there on our television, and she couldn’t take it.
It’s one of the absolute sweetest things Alexia has ever done. And it brought a smile to my face, as I fought like hell to hold back the tears.
As she usually does when she gets sad, Alexia chooses to get angry as a way to deal with the sadness (she gets that from me, for sure). She stomped off to our room, where her mom was lying peacefully, wondering why her peaceful night of watching grown-up TV had abruptly come to an end.
I watched the entire movie, so that when the time comes for Alexia to give “Brave” another shot, I could give her advance warning of any other questionable scenes, and most important, to give a friendly Spoiler that Merida’s mom does indeed, revert back to human form. But I bet the “Brave” disc won’t be back in our blu-ray player anytime soon.
That’s OK. Maybe that’s one Disney film she should watch with her mom, anyway.