Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Martian Child {reposting}

Don't you hate it when you see a movie and really like it and then you go read some very critical and negative reviews of it and you can sort of agree with them, and you think maybe you're just an idiot for liking it, but you like it anyway? I hate that.
But I liked this movie anyway. Have you all seen it??

It's the story of a little boy named Dennis who has been abandoned and emotionally abused and spends all day sitting in a box, waiting for someone to adopt him - and who thinks he's from Mars. He hates the sun. He wears a weight belt to keep himself from floating away. And he likes hanging upside down, to help counteract Earth's gravity.
Then David (John Cusack), a widower, gets a call from the foster place saying that they think they have found a good fit for him. It's Dennis.
David asks the lady, "so just out of curiosity, what makes you think that I am a good match for a kid who spends all his time in a box?"
Sophie responds, "He thinks he's from another planet."
You see, because David is a science-fiction writer who understands a little bit about aliens, and outer-space, and being an outsider.
So it's sort of a story about adoption, sort about a kid with very unique needs, sort of about building a family and learning about each other, sort of about accepting differences. Not so much about Mars.

And I can relate to so much of it, it was almost painful to watch. I think we all can relate to it in some ways. But especially having a child who is different, that other people may not understand, a kid who will be in a "special class" because he won't fit in in a regular one . . . even though he doesn't think he's from Mars, sometimes we wonder, "where did you come from? what do we do now? How do we help this child learn "humanbeingness" as Dennis says he's come to earth to learn?"

We wonder that about all our children. (Another great quote from David's brother-in-law: "all kids are aliens, he's just smart enough to admit it.")
But maybe especially those who are a little different. Who have trouble making friends. Who have quirks and idiosyncrasies that may make them stand out.

I struggle desperately to understand and find the balance between helping our kids learn social skills, learn how to fit in enough to not be an alien to everyone else, and yet give them the freedom to be who they are. To feel good about who they are, even if they are not like everyone else. We want our kids to be "normal," to come down to earth and be like everyone else to some extent - I don't think any of us wants to see our kids hurting, being the loner, out on the sidelines, being so "weird" that they are teased or even bullied. There are ways to teach kids that some things are considered "acceptable," manners etc, and some things are not. But then, as Dennis asks David as they are getting ready for his first day at a new school, "is it good to be like everyone else?" And he quickly learns that he should "pretend not to be from Mars" so that the experts will see "progress" and let them stay together. We do want them to be themselves, too. As David's friend says, "there's nothing wrong with being a little eccentric."
How do you find the balance??? It makes my head spin and my heart ache.

I wish I could figure it out.
The best quote, though, is from the final scene:
"Sometimes we forget that children have just arrived on the earth. They are a little like aliens, coming into beings as bundles of energy and pure potential, here on some exploratory mission and they are just trying to learn what it means to be human. For some reason Dennis and I reached out into the universe and found each other, Never really know how or why. And discovered that I can love an alien and he can love a creature. And that's weird enough for both of us."
So true, so true.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Reading Round-Up: May and June {Reposted}

I'm going to need to do this a little differently this time, as I am dreadfully behind.

Here are the books I read in May and June:

1. The Last Lecture - Randy Pausch
2. The Merchant of Venice - Shakespeare
3. The Anybodies - N.E. Bode
4. Spilling Clarence - Anne Ursu
5. Mansfield Park - Jane Austen
6. Healing ADD - Daniel Amen
7. Gilead - Marilynne Robinson
8. Called out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession - Anne Rice
9. Spilling Open - Sabrina Ward Harrison
10. The Nobodies - N.E. Bode
11. Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt - Anne Rice
12. Catalyst - Laurie Halse Anderson
13. We the Living - Ayn Rand
14. The Somebodies - N.E. Bode
15. Tourmaline - Joanna Scott
16. Fablehaven Book 4 - Brandon Mull
17. The Wednesday Sisters - Meg Waite Clayton
18. Camilla - Madeleine L'Engle
19. Every Last Cuckoo - Kate Maloy

Yeah. That's kind of a lot. Have no fear, I am not reading nearly as many this month (although I have

So, my top recommendations from the above list are:

Spilling Clarence (again, I may choose this for my bookclub pick, so don't read it yet)

Healing ADD (if such a thing is of interest to you, this is one of the best ones I've read to date) Gilead

We the Living


Mansfield Park

And best for getting some creative juices flowing: Spilling Open

Best children's book: The Anybodies (yes, Fablehaven was good, too. But we've already discussed Fablehaven, haven't we? Whatever I said before still applies).

Best for feeling introspective: The Last Lecture

Toughest read: The Merchant of Venice (really, what has happened to my brain? I swear I had no idea what was going on for most of this book)

Biggest Surprise: Christ the Lord (and I'd recommend reading Rice's Called out of Darkness for a more in-depth look at how she went from writing vampire stories, to writing historical fiction about the life of Christ).

And that's about it for now. Just because one of the books I read didn't make any of my "bests" lists, doesn't mean they weren't good, I just can't think anymore. If I had more time, I would tell you what I liked and disliked about each of them. But you can go to my Goodreads page if you want any more reviews, my friends. :)

So, whatcha readin' this summer? Do you think summer is a better time to tackle some longer and more difficult reads or do you stick to lighter beach reads or just read what you normally read? Or do you take a break from all things requiring mental effort and veg out as much as possible?

And really, do you think I read too much? Maybe? heheheh, catch me if you can . . . :)
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