Saturday, July 3, 2010

Toy Story 3 and the importance of Fidelity

Today is my 12th wedding anniversary. My husband, our son, and I celebrated by going to a newish movie theater where you can order from the bar and dinner menu while watching the movie. We only go to the movies about once a year, because we can always get anything we want through cable. Toy Story 3d is one of those exceptions. It is a true luxury to be waited on by a nice young man (Greg) while enjoying good food (nachos, pizza, cheese cake) and drinking (pinot grigio, Cabernet, root beer) and watching a movie that makes you laugh and cry and love the movie makers.

Toy Story 3 is about fidelity even in the dry wastelands of abandonment. Some of the toys feel betrayed. They don't believe Andy was putting them in the attic. But Woody knows, and believes. He cares for Andy and his friends in meaningful ways throughout the movie. He let's everyone understand that they have responsibilities to each other. His final self sacrificing act places him with his old toy pals in the hands of a child who will love and care for them as Andy has. That is love. He gives up 'his' boy for the good of all. And Andy understands that when he sees the child to whom he leaves his friends. He teaches her to be their friend and care giver just as he has.

This is a message lost on most educators in the US. Most student teachers are taught that it is best to discourage 'best friends' because they will bond in opposition to authority. I remember being told by a former child care director that my son was being discouraged from playing with certain friends because they had become best friends. That was 5 years ago.

15 years ago, I was teaching at a high school and had plan periods at the same time as a woman who became a 'best friend'. We were quickly separated by the administrators. She had parents who had met in kindergarten and married out of high school. My parents will this year celebrate 56 years of marriage with their 12 children and 34 grandchildren. We understand fidelity. It was one of those bonds that couldn't be broken.

Apparently the primary lesson of administrators and educators is that they should always divide and conquer. I ask you to take these disparate stories and make a little leap with me. If we allow educators and child care providers to undermine our children's attachments at early ages, are we only contributing to the culture of death, divorce and disintegration?

I think we are. My son has said since kindergarten that he will marry a girl named Claire. She calls him her 'future husband.' In some circles this would be discouraged. They are too young. Their feelings could lead to behaviors that would jeopardize their futures. Or maybe, they will learn to be faithful and sacrificial for the sake of the other through fidelity and love. I don't know what the future holds, but I know I prefer a child who is faithful, loving, considerate, and willing to sacrifice for others, to the child who is popular, unfeeling, disrespectful and selfish.

What do you want your children to learn?

"We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed,each of us is loved, each of us is necessary."-- Pope Benedict XVI

Yes, even the people who make us most angry and frustrated are the result of a thought of God. Even you. How do you use that gift?

I know I don't use it as well as I should.
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