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.
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
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.
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.