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.