November 8, 2011

High; Shoe-Tying; Decluttering; Spoilers and Complaints for Everybody's Fine

Too much coffee + exercise + too many Mr. Goodbars + laughed about something until I got dizzy = I think I might be high.

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Teaching a child to tie his shoes is hellish. No, I'm not going to modify that with a perspective-acknowledging statement. It's hellish. Oh, it's part of parenting? DON'T CARE, STILL HELLISH.

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I got some very satisfying de-cluttering done today. We have a closet I use for storing gifts I bought ahead of time, gifts for the kids to bring to birthday parties, items for care packages, stuff I don't know what else to do with, and gift bags and ribbon and stuff.

ANYWAY, the thing about buying ahead is, it doesn't always pan out. Usually it does, but sometimes I see a great clearance on a whole bunch of mix-and-match Dwell Studio baby girl clothes when my sister-in-law is pregnant with what turns out to be a boy. Or I buy a bunch of Gymboree blankets because I get kind of obsessed with them and start collecting one from each line, figuring I can give them as baby gifts---but then I can't make myself part with any of MY PRECIOUS my friends stop having babies before I run out of blankets. Or I buy gifts for the birthday-party shelf, but party after party goes by and none of the kids choose those gifts to bring and I start getting tired of them taking up space (the gifts, not the kids).

And here it is, the time of year to hide gifts in earnest, so I really NEED the space, but I can't really GET RID OF this perfectly good stuff. The timing was perfect: my blog-friend Misty is reluctantly gathering auction items for a non-profit, and she says she can make an auction item out of ANYTHING. So I packed up a box, and now my problems are her problems and my gift closet is more manageable.

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The next part is going to be full of spoilers for the movie Everybody's Fine (Netflix link) (a movie I think I have now referred to as Everyone is Fine, Everyone's Fine, and The Kids are All Fine). It's the last topic of the post, so if you don't want to read the spoilers you can click away without having to squint-scroll to find the end.

Short version: I didn't buy ANY of it, and I wondered how they got such a good cast to put on this crazy talk. (Long version continues from here.) Maybe a couple of generations ago, a dad would have needed to realize that by pushing his children too hard he was pushing them away, but a guy like Robert De Niro's character, in his sixties living in contemporary times, would not have to be lied to by his wife about such issues as the existence of a grandchild---nor could I picture the whole family being in on such a thing AND being able to pull it off. And if his wife DID lie to him, I think she would have changed her mind on that when she was DYING. And I can't picture four children ALL telling their dad the kinds of AMAZING WHOPPERS they come up with in this movie (they even try to lie to him about THE HEART ATTACK HE JUST HAD, as if that would be a sustainable lie after the doctor came in to talk to him), OR a dad being dim enough to continue to believe stuff he's been allowed to assume. How could he think his son was a conductor and his daughter was a starring dancer, without ever insisting on seeing a performance? Also, I didn't believe his doctor would have discouraged the trip OR that he would have had such immediate results from missing a single dose of medication (though it looked to me as if he was significantly overdosing on his remaining crushed tablets, so maybe that was supposed to be the reason).

Also, everybody is NOT fine, and there is some really nauseating stuff about the dead son going to join his dead mother in heaven and forgiving his dad on his way up. (YES, I cried through it, but I felt MAD about it.) And certainly everyone seemed to take the death of a family member tremendously in stride: a little pang of bittersweet memories and then everything is happy again and the dad is telling his wife's gravestone that all the kids (including the dead one) are fine. And now that the lies are out in the open, everyone can gather around the holiday table in glowing acceptance, yay!

But I liked some of the ideas (parents learning that they have to be open to their children being ordinary; parents putting disappointments into perspective; parents finding that they can pressure their kids to the point that the kids start lying to them) enough that I think I'll try Stanno Tutti Bene, the movie on which this movie was based. Perhaps the original did a better job at keeping things believable. (Oh, shoot, Netflix doesn't have it.)

Also, I liked the exchange between Robert De Niro's character and his son Robert. Also, I loved the part with his early-teens grandson Jack. Also, I liked Robert De Niro, just OVERALL, and I thought his whole performance was very touching (although that made it even harder to believe he could have brought up his children to lie to him like that). Also, I thought they got a lot of really good-quality bit-part actors. Also, I liked the dream scene where he talks to his kids around a table in the yard, and they're children again and the various truths come out. So I'd say my primary feeling is of DISAPPOINTMENT: the movie had such potential, but failed to reach it. Which is kind of funny, since that's one of the major themes of the movie.

17 comments:

Kate said...

I haaated that movie. It was just RUTHLESSLY bleak and depressing and disheartening. And so many small unbelievable things, like you said.

StephLove said...

My 10 year old can't tie his shoes. He has coordination issues and we've never really tried to teach him. He wears crocs or no-lace sneakers.

BTW, what happened to the exercise post? I could see the title for a while on your sidebar but the post never showed up when I clicked.

Shalini said...

I bought tie shoes for the six-year-old for the first time. MISTAKE CTRL Z MISTAKE. I can see his teachers grimacing at me whenever they have to lean down and tie, too.

Dawn said...

Teaching shoe-tying is worse than potty training. HATE HATE HATE.

Magic27 said...

Teaching shoe-tying is bad, but I've got more PTSD from trying to teach time-telling (almost-10-year-old still wobbly on this) and multiplication tables (same almost-10-year-old, very bright despite what this makes her seem, but oh, lordy, multiplication tables... They start learning them in 2nd grade here in France; she's now in 5th and STILL doesn't know them)

Jessica said...

Ugh. I watched that movie a long time ago, so I don't remember specifics, but I remember it being incredibly depressing. Excessively so - like they were trying too hard.

Swistle said...

StephLove- I typed the title and then accidentally hit some magical combination of keys that published it, so then I immediately removed it---but in .5 seconds, it had already been picked up by feed readers. (That is TOO FAST, feed readers.)

Alice said...

i had no idea shoe-tying was such a treacherous skill! i learn so much from blogs. (this is serious, btw, not facetious. i'm getting to the point where if i ever get pregnant, i'm going to force my bf to start reading blogs so he knows what to expect.)

Maggie said...

Even though I'm sure grandparents everywhere wag their fingers at me and talk about "kids these days not learning to tie their shoes, etc," I still mainly buy my 8 YO shoes that either slip on or have the laces that you don't have to tie because otherwise it takes him 1,000 years to tie his damned shoes. In the scheme of things I feel I need him to learn, tying shoes seems to have fallen towards the bottom, well below things like multiplication, spelling, and making his own breakfast and lunch...

JeannetteLS said...

Teaching children to tie shoes is why God invented Velcro.

I don't buy ahead; I simply buy and forget I bought already.

I'm glad I read the review. I'm getting old. I know this. But the older I get the more I avoid unhappy movies that are trying to make a point at me. I'll just zone out and pretend I'm one o' them Greek women in "Mama Mia" dancing behind Meryl Streep beyond the line of ghost trees, by the sea. Happy endings for everyone, all the time. The insipider (is that a word?) the BETTER.

Lisa said...

Try being a right-handed parent with a lefty child, and teaching them to tie their shoes. IT CANNOT BE DONE. (Or at least until my 80yo grandfather went, "Eff this ess," and taught him to just make two loops and tie them.) But before that? MADNESS.

L said...

Just checked my blog and I had called that movie my favorite of 2009. Depressing yes and unbelievable story but the themes of emotional dishonesty, and emotional unavailability i thought were bang on. Fave part was when the dad saw the painting the kid had done of the powerlines. Cast was awesome and I think with a better script it could have done so much better. The movie American beauty? Also pretty depressing right, but just a wicked good script so they pulled those themes off.

Swistle said...

L- I thought that power-lines painting was so emotionally forced/manipulative. Look, Dad: your relentless emphasis on your incredible and exceptional "having a job and supporting your children" sacrifice DID sink in! Now everyone in the audience please tear up the emotional significance as we finally close up the constant Power Lines Theme!

Catharina said...

That is one of the most depressing movies I've ever seen. The only reason I watched it, was because they were showing it on a transatlantic flight. I think the movie-choosers for that flight were out to make me cry because the other movie they showed was "Hachi: A Dog's Tale", where a dog waits for his owner at the train station, even after the owner passes away.

Christine said...

If you ever have toys you want to donate from the gift pile, my girlfriend collects gifts around September to December to give away at the Boston Hospital Cardiac Unit where her daughter was treated. (We lost Faith just over a year ago). The cardiac unit gives each kid a gift when they're undergoing testing and procedures. If you don't feel like shipping them, it might be worth it to see if your local hospital does something similar?

Misty said...

Check it out people. *I'm* Swistle's Blog-Friend. Mmmhmm. This is a proud day for me.

I can't thank you enough. I won't even try. There aren't enough keystrokes in the world to be thankful enough. You save my life! MUAH!

Nik-Nak said...

I'm having a hard enough time even trying to motivate myself to get started with potty training. I can't even imagine the frustration with shoe tying!
Urgh.