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From Inside the Puzzle: Raising a Child with Autism Blog

Princess Mononoke

Published October 25, 2012 6:09 PM by Devon Alley

I was so, so very proud of my little girl this past weekend. I decided early on Saturday that I really wanted to do a Family Movie Night that evening. Thomas and I had spoken earlier about how we really needed to introduce A. to the work of Miyazaki because we both enjoy his work and we had a feeling A. would like it, too. So, I decided to ask A. if she'd be willing to watch Princess Mononoke with us.

I think I've mentioned in previous blog entries that watching a brand new movie is a really big deal for A. In order to have enough coping skills to deal with the film, she often watches as many clips as she can of the movie over and over days in advance. She wants to know exactly what to expect when she's watching the film, and if things look dark or bleak for the characters, or if there's an apparent conflict, she'll often stop watching the film or have to go into another room until the conflict is over.

When I asked A. if she'd be interested in watching this anime movie with us, she immediately looked up a trailer online and watched it. I explained that the film featured some really strong girl characters, and I know that was part of the appeal for her -- she's often complaining that movies and television shows don't often have really awesome female characters; that most of the awesome characters are boys. I think she also liked the look of the trailer, because she said, "Why not?" and agreed to a pizza and movie night.

I was so proud of her, not only for being able to watch a brand new movie on such short notice with minimal prep, but also for sitting through the whole movie, for being interested in what was going on, and for being able to deal with a whole lot of conflict, darkness, and bad things in the movie without panicking, getting upset, having to leave the room, or just giving up on the film. During the part of the film after the forest itself is suffering, I looked over to A. to see big, silent tears streaming down her cheeks -- so she was very engaged in the story, and extremely empathetic to the actions that were happening. Still, she was able to sit through it, and this is probably the first time I can remember her being able to do so.

When you first see Princess Mononoke leaping from the backs of her wolves, dancing around the men with her amazing warrior spirit, A. exclaimed, "Damn, look at her go!" and I chimed in with, "Yeah, she's pretty badass." It was a neat moment where we both acknowledged and recognized a really strong female character doing amazing things in a film, and we also got to have a shared experience in the film-watching -- allowing a sort of shared commentary where I recognize that A. is becoming more of an adult herself and allowing her to converse like teenagers do. It was pretty neat.

But, yeah -- super amounts of proud of her after our movie watching experience. It was just another great way to spend an evening together. I am so grateful that she's reached a point in her life where it's possible for me to start sharing so many cool things with her. That, I suppose, is the bright side to your kid growing into a teenager. :-)

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