Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Joy, Anger, Sadness

The whole gang: Papa as Fear and Aunt Carrie as Disgust



You won't be surprised to learn that we have seen the newest Disney/Pixar movie twice.  You will be even less surprised to learn that my eyes leaked both times; despite the fact that I knew what was going to happen.  Both times!  And you will be even less surprised to learn that my children immediately cast those around them as characters from the movie.  This has happened from the moment Sweet Girl discovered the Heffalump Movie: she has cast those around her as characters in her favorite moving pictures.  This is something Little Man has not only accepted as normal, he has run with it and changes our characters multiple times in a day.  Fortunately, he's got great communication skills for a director (which I almost spelled 'dictator', Mr. Freud) and announces to all involved the changes that have been made.  "Mom! I am Miles and sister is Moretta and you're Mom and Dad is Dad." I have fewer character and wardrobe changes than others.  Though they have different styles in their casting, one thing both Sweet Girl and Little Man have in common is casting themselves as stars.  This is appropriate for their development, as most people feel the world revolves around them until their mid-twenties I'd say, and even later for professional politicians.  And it makes for some great character acting opportunities for me, though I'd argue that my children have far more character than I do.

So pretty, I'll just stare at the memory globes for a bit.
So when we walked out after Inside Out ended (the first time), I was not fazed to hear that Sweet Girl would be Joy and Little Man would be Anger.  For one thing, Little Man giggled to the point of tears at just about anything Anger said and Sweet Girl's face practically lit up anytime Joy's glow appeared on the screen.  Great casting choices.  I was, however, taken aback when Sweet Girl turned and told me I would play Sadness.  If you haven't seen the movie, let me catch you up.  Inside Out centers around the emotions in our brains that help make us who we are.  They are in charge of regulating reactions, create our personalities, and imbuing memories with appropriate emotions.  During the movie you get to know Riley, and tween girl in the midst of moving from Minnesota to San Francisco with parents and basically changing her life completely, and her emotions: Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust.  The creative muses at Disney/Pixar have done a marvelous job of taking a complicated and technically process and making it accessible and visually appealing.  As a memory is created it is colored to correspond with the emotion it holds.  Core memories are the most important ones that we base our personality upon.  In Riley's case, there's the memory of scoring her first hockey goal.  It creates a happy memory that more and more memories are based upon and leads to "Hockey Island", an aspect of Riley's personality.  Some complications occur with the core memories and Joy and Sadness end up outside of the control room and in long-term memory.  Adventures ensue as Disgust, Anger, and Fear try to keep things running and Joy and Sadness try to get back to headquarters with the help of Riley's imaginary friend Bing Bong.  So many great things happen on this particular journey.  Actually, they're not great for the characters at the time, but they were great to see as art imitated life so accurately (at least in my mind) as Riley starts to get adjusted to her new house, new hometown, and new school.

Joy even in the midst of rain
Usually, Sweet Girl is pretty spot-on when it comes to casting.  I've been her sidekick in more roles than I can count.  And though they're not always flattering, I've learned to think it through first before out and out rejecting the roles she's given me.  When I was Ralph to her Vanellope von Schweetz, I didn't want to be.  But she was right; I am her friend, her (sometimes over) protector, and her coach.  Ditto, Lumpy's Momma in the Heffalump Movie - didn't even get a real name for heaven's sake.  I don't particularly relish being Rarity in Ponyville, but I suppose I do actually make things, wear the glasses, and get her all her clothes.  So when she told me I was Sadness, I needed to regulate my own emotions.  There was joy: She included me! There was anger: Why would I be Sadness?! There was disgust: Do I always have to be short and dumpy? (sigh, typecasting) There was sadness itself: Am I just sad to her? And then there was fear: WHAT IF I REALLY AM JUST SAD TO HER?!  What if all I represent in her world of unadulterated emotion is sadness?  Have I made her think that I am just a storm cloud over her sunshine?  Have I lead her to believe that my life is not full of other things besides tears and gloom?  Has she internalized this to think that she has made me sad?  Please, don't let it be that....but what if? What if this is true, then how has this tainted her core memories and her islands of personality?  What have I done?

He doesn't look angry.
And, breathe......regulate.....think it through.  First and foremost, Joy and Sadness spend the majority of the film together.  They are not always a team but they are always together.  "Girl Power!" is one of my daughter's favorite expressions and time; no boys allowed, just the two of us.  Well played, Sweet Girl.  Secondly, Joy and Sadness learn that they're actually not independent of one another.  One is necessary to the other.  That, in fact, many memories carry both emotions.  They are at their best as a team.  Even  Curtis Jackson (aka 50 Cent who apparently only has that much money left) knows that sunny days wouldn't be special if it wasn't for rain.  So that works too.  Those two reasons right there are enough to make me happy to be Sadness, so it's just icing on the cake that I do love a good turtleneck sweater.  Then a little more reflection made me feel even more comfortable with this role when I remembered Riley's mother's control board is helmed by her personal sadness as well.  Riley's father's is helmed by his personal anger; interesting in its own way.

I realized that as I age (again, sigh), the more my memory globes become muddled with different colors.  Sweet Girl's and Little Man's globes are pure color, I'm sure, as they feel their feels and feel them at that moment thoroughly.  But, every time I hold Little Man and hear him giggle I am filled with joy enough to power our home with an accompanying streak of sadness, as I know these moments are finite.  Little Man will one day cease to be a quirky little boy made of marshmallow fluff, giggles, and questions and will instead be a moody tween, a moody teenager, eventually even a (moody? probably) adult.  The laughter and giggles that he creates now in his moments of pure yellow, joyful, memory globes will someday be tempered, possibly even relegated to the Memory Dump.  How can a mother's heart not break a little knowing that?  This blue turtleneck fits perfectly.  I wonder about Sweet Girl.  I wonder if her differently-wired brain will ever master that tempering of emotion, and again the colors swirl and cloud my thoughts.  I fear that she won't and that will make life more difficult for her.  I am sad that I don't know how to help make that better, faster, easier; I am sad that I don't know.  I am angry that she should ever be expected to be anyone else than who she is.  I am disgusted that I am sometimes one of the people who expect her to be different than she is.  But when I wonder about Sweet Girl, and even Little Man, though the colors are tempered and blended and mixed, the one I see the most is yellow.  Because they are my joy.

 A little porch swing time at Nana and Papa's.


Post-script:  This movie has sparked several conversations about emotions in my house.  And it has confirmed for me that both of my children think in pictures.  As we turn on the soundtrack (no words!) Little Man is able to recall what happened in the movie while that particular theme played and Sweet Girl is able to fill in the details of the images.  Interesting.