I didn’t marry the poetic type. He would never write me a song and strum it out on a guitar. He’s not overly emotional, either. The man couldn’t even muster a tear when he saw my radiant self walking down the aisle, despite my requests that he do so. Yes, I am that obnoxious. I don’t recall him ever suggesting we watch a romance, unless it was the early days of our courtship and he was trying to get in my pants. Even then, he was probably all, “Hey, wanna watch Goodfellas?!” Meh. He’s endearing in other ways.
But because we now have two daughters, it won’t be long before husband is smacked upside the head with so. many. emotions. Before we know it, our one and four-year-olds are going to be hormonal, pubescent nutjobs, and if they go through middle school anything like I did, I’m in trouble, but Daddy Dearest will remain unscathed.
This means husband becomes Our Only Hope. God help us.
Not only is the man allergic to feelings, but he’s also not the most observant guy. Once, after my dad had surgery, he was in our basement testing his new knee on our stationary bike. Legend has it that my husband walked into the room, mere feet from my pedaling father, and never even saw or heard him. Not until my Dad announced his presence did Husband realize he was there. He then screamed like a girl and this is the part of the story where everyone laughs at him and it’s fun.
His complete lack of observational skill is why I don’t feel so bad when he doesn’t notice my new hair cut, but it is why I worry for his sanity when he doesn’t notice a mopey tweenager’s angst, or his wife’s 1o-day silent treatment. Oye.
It wasn’t until this weekend that I carried a shred of hope my husband would be able to handle three women in his house menstruating at the same time. And what gave me such encouragement? A cartoon.
On Saturday morning, we flipped the middle finger to the incessant rain, and took the kids to see Pixar’s Inside Out. In case you live under a rock, or don’t watch children’s television programming 12 hours a day, you can read a synopsis of the movie HERE. In a nutshell, it’s an animated flick about emotions. Fear, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Happiness are personified, allowing the audience–my husband included–a glimpse at the inner-workings of a person’s feelings.
Because the baby would never sit through an entire movie, she and I did some mall walking…with a credit card. Husband and our son and daughter enjoyed a 3-D showing of Inside Out, and after hearing their rave reviews, I am seriously bummed I missed out. But even without seeing the movie, I’m here to tell you why everyone–especially husbands and fathers–should run immediately to the theater, get extra butter on his popcorn, and let the emotions in.
Maybe it was the hour and forty minutes away from me, but when the credits rolled, my kiddos came a’sprinting, and it wasn’t for quarters for the arcade games. They wanted me because the main character in the movie had been separated from her parents and my kids didn’t like the way that made them feel. They missed me, you guys! The movie made them feel and watch someone else feel, and I want to give Disney one of my big ‘ol Mom Hug for that. Speaking of Moms, THANK YOU FOR NOT KILLING THIS ONE, DISNEY!
When I asked my husband how he liked it, he patted his chest and said, “It’ll get ya!” Both kids cried at the end, and my husband admitted he got a little choked up, too. What’s this?! The man with the awkward funeral throat clearing was CHOKED UP OVER A CARTOON?
Thank you, Pixar.
Then he recalled one of his favorite parts, the all-too-familiar dinner table scene below, and my husband said, and I quote, “See? It’s not just me who doesn’t pay attention! You think there’s something wrong with me, but there’s something wrong with ALL MEN!”
Yes, guys, he threw you all under the bus.
To which I replied: “If you’re okay with being DUHHHH, then you’ve got to be okay with me being AHHHH!”
Many parents can attest to the ying and yang of their relationship as being the thing that makes them work. One is cool, calm and collected, and the other is ABSOLUTELY NOT. I know my high-strung tendencies are made more bearable because of my husband’s go-with-the-flow personality. The delicate balance of knowing who can handle broken bones and who is better suited to talk about the birds and bees is part of the parenting recipe. The second I see blood, I start swatting invisible mosquitoes as an idiotic yet uncontrollable physical response to seeing a person in pain. Thankfully, my husband swoops in, assesses the situation and makes the final call of BandAid vs. Emergency Room.
It’s not just the parents who struggle with reacting to the world and people around us; our children’s varying responses to the same situations can make life downright confusing sometimes. At the end of Inside Out, my daughter said it was sad, but her older brother said it was scary. My gal saw how the main character was forced into a new life, and felt bad for her. My son, on the other hand, witnessed the character’s attempts at raging against the parental machine, and her venturing out on her own elicited fear in the boy. Life is life, but we all bring our own interpretations to the table. That’s what makes it exciting, worthwhile, and baffling all at the same time.
I’m a firm believer that a good cry does a body good; holding it in can constipate a person. Or something. But a good laugh can be just as cleansing. My kids giggled as they recounted parts of the movie, namely when the emotions battled it out to control the characters. While I’m a fan of laugh-peeing, I can’t put a price tag on the value that is young children acknowledging and understanding why people feel the way they do. Call it empathy, call it emotional intelligence–I call it SCORE!
I’m not saying Inside Out inspired my husband to serenade me in the Food Court, but I know him, and I know he has filed scenes from this movie in his mental Rolodex under SO MANY EMOTIONS PLEASE HELP. He’ll look at those animated characters as mini-mentors who will help him help his kids when life becomes not so simple for them any more, and that makes him a better Dad. Inside Out is one of those movies that we’ll both be referring to for years, using it when we need to explain why a kid was mean to our son in school, or reminding our girls that there are ways to respond to hardship other than whining. We’ll say, “Hey, remember when Riley felt fill-in-the-blank, and Joy tried to fill-in-the-blank.” Forget all the books and experts; a colorful cartoon has quickly become our greatest parenting tool.
Some of us are better (me) than others (husband) at articulating our emotions, but if I’ve learned anything since choosing the man as my partner in crime, it’s that thoughtfully written cards with original artwork on the envelopes say I love you. Taking three kids grocery shopping says I want to help you. Kissing me goodbye means I’ll miss you. Showing our feelings is not an easy thing to do, as a child or an adult, but if the goal is to live in a world that respects our right to feel, this movie is for you. If you’re struggling with a kiddo who thinks showing sadness is a sign of weakness, go see this movie. Or if you need a good cry, go see this movie. Or if you’ve got a spouse who could really use a blueprint to navigate the impending future of three teenagers in one house, go see this movie. And make sure to put an adorable snuggle bug on his lap so he feels allllll the feels.