Today V and I went to see "The Tale of Despereaux." If you haven't seen it yet, you need to check it out when it comes out on DVD - we saw it at the cheap $1.50 theater, which usually means that it's not at the local theaters anymore. Anyway....it was a great movie about a little mouse who saves a princess that he loves from danger and a king who learns to forgive himself and love again. We have been listening to the book on CD in the car on the way to and from school, so V and I were pretty familiar with the story and enjoyed (for the most part) the way that Hollywood adapted it. Throughout the movie, I kept being reminded about important things I need to remember as a parent. I thought I would share my insights....all from a little mouse.
The main character, Despereaux is born very tiny with great big ears. Everyone made fun of him but he was super cute (V thought we needed a mouse now...that's not happening!) I used that moment to talk to V about small people doing big things - if you know V, she's one of the tiniest people I know. She barely hits 4 feet tall and just tipped the scales at 51 pounds, so she's a petite little girl at 8 years old. She loved seeing how such a little mouse could help so many different parts of the story!
The part that hit home the most with me as a parent and a teacher was the way you saw Despereaux's character develop. He was born with his eyes open, unafraid of anything in the mouse village. He wouldn't scurry, he wouldn't cower, and he (worst of all) didn't follow the mouse rules. In other words, he refused to conform. Later on, this served him well as he was the only one brave enough to rescue the princess from the rats. I started thinking about how I emphasize to V the importance of listening and always obeying. My personality is very different from hers - I am one of those people who doesn't really question things and if you tell me not to do it, I won't. That's just me. V on the other hand is a questioner - she wants to know why - she wants to see what happens if she does it. I get so frustrated with her sometimes and honestly wish at times that she would just obey without the constant questioning and testing. But then I started thinking about this little mouse. If he had done exactly what his parents said without being "Despereaux", the whole story would have fallen apart. I think so many times adults try to force kids into a mold without seeing their potential for greatness because of our desire to have them "obey" and "fit in." PLEASE don't get me wrong - I am NOT advocating for unruly children who don't obey any rules - that is the farthest thing from the truth. I do, however, want to be more conscious of kids' uniqueness - qualities that make them who they are. As a teacher, I see so many kids who are labeled "ADHD" or "Oppositional Defiant" because they don't blindly go along with what others tell them to do and don't fit the mold of the "traditional student." The movers and shakers in history all "bucked the system" - I need to be more aware and recognize those traits in both my own child and those that I teach and help mold them into the leadership qualities and positive personality traits that they can possess. Just wanted to share what a little mouse helped me realize today. :)