59. Refreshed: Write a poem about a time you really felt refreshed and renewed. Maybe it was a dip into a pool on a hot summer day, a drink of lemonade, or other situation that helped you relax and start again.
But ever since having kids, I CRY LIKE A BABY in movies.
Has anyone else noticed this phenomenon? It’s especially bad if it involves crying children, parents being separated from children, children losing parents, children getting lost, or anything in that vein.
Not that I’ve ever been particularly stoic when it comes to films. I was known to have a good cry at the movies even before having kids.
Here’s a list of the top five movies that made me cry.
1. Life is Beautiful
This is the first film I remember really breaking down and weeping in.
I saw it with my family in NYC when I was a teenager, and I remember going to the bathroom with my mother after the movie ended and helping her fix her mascara.
What’s wonderful about this movie is the combination of comedy and drama, which makes it all the more poignant.
2. Schindler’s List
I ugly cried during this film, it’s true. But that very fact annoys me.
See, I have this beef with Steven Spielberg. Yeah, the dude knows what he’s doing (he’s one of the world’s most successful film makers, after all), but he plays unabashedly on people’s emotions.
“How is that different from ‘Life is Beautiful,'” you ask? There is no subtlety to Spielberg. He whacks you over the head with his point, driving it home with a sledgehammer.
For example, as Liam Neeson playing Schindler weeps at the end of the film saying, “I could have saved more!” the discerning viewer already KNEW he felt that way! You didn’t have to state the obvious!
Okay, all that to say that I ugly cried in this film and still hate myself for it.
3. Of Mice and Men
I don’t know what was up with me when I saw this, but I just lost it. The friends I was watching it with thought they had scarred me for life.
It was in high school at a New England boarding school. My advisor, the dean of the school lived on campus and she would let students use her living room to study, have group meetings, or just hang out and watch TV.
“Of Mice and Men” was showing on TV. The awkward part is that the gun shots were edited out for the TV audience, so you had some guesswork to do to figure out exactly what was happening.
It was pretty obvious, though, and I cried like I’d never cried in a movie before.
4. Mary Poppins
You weren’t expecting this one, were you?? Yeah, I choke up each and every time I watch this movie. We own it on DVD and have a DVD player in the car. We’ve watched it three times in the last month on long car rides. I still get a lump in my throat every time.
Don’t ask me why. It’s the poignancy of it, I guess. That, and Dick Van Dyke’s cockney accent.
5. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
I know what you’re thinking, but wait! Don’t judge!
Chico and I sat down to watch this film shortly after our first son was born. At one point, James Franco’s character has to leave his incredibly intelligent chimp in an animal shelter, and walk away.
I was postpartum. I couldn’t handle it. Enough said.
A Couple Others for Good Measure:
6. Coco: You cannot tell me you didn’t cry at the beginning of this movie. YOU CANNOT HONESTLY TELL ME THAT.
7. Up: Ditto for this one. I mean, COME ON! They fall in love as children! They dream of traveling together! They lose the baby! They grow old together! She gets sick AND DIES! I was weeping.
There Are Probably More…
I have definitely cried or at least teared up in other films. But these are the big ones I remember.
I can hear my mother nagging me to practice piano as a child. I can see the little upright we had in my childhood home. I can hear my brother playing “The Entertainer.”
Fast forward nearly twenty years since I last had a piano lesson. A piano has fallen in my lap.
Friends were clearing some things out of their home and offered us their old spinet piano. It hasn’t been tuned in twenty years, but hey! It’s a free piano!
Well, turns out nothing is really free.
The tuner came in on Tuesday and opened it up. I heard a tentative clearing of the throat.
“Jane…? I need to ask you a question.” “Yes?” I said. “Did you spend any money to move this piano here?” “No… Why?” “Well there’s that, at least.”
The bass bridge is cracked and there’s what looks like mold in the bottom of the piano.
Essentially, the piano sounds like crap and will always sound like crap unless we pay about $800 to repair the bridge. Even then, the sound is nothing special.
The question is, is the piano worth this much?
The tuner was wonderful. She didn’t charge me for coming out, and she gave outlined three possibilities:
We repair the crack in the bridge ($800 as previously mentioned).
We ignore the crack in the bridge, tune the piano and know that it won’t be a stable tune and the crack could get worse.
We replace the piano.
We looked around a bit online at Craig’s list and Facebook marketplace to see what was on offer. Turns out, a lot of people are trying to get rid of pianos for free (since they know whoever takes them will have to pay professionals to move them).
It also turns out that people who are trying to get rid of pianos are happy to open them up and send me pictures of the instrument’s innards.
So now I’ve identified a promising piano. I know how much it would cost to get it here and to haul out the old one. I know how much it would cost to get the new (old) piano tuned up and repaired.
Do I have to write something inspiring? Can’t I just write something inspired by the sunrise or sunset?
Not Inspired (or Inspiring)
Why is it, that instead of feeling inspired by today’s writing prompt, I feel annoyed? “[The sun] goes round and round.” No, it does not! The EARTH goes round and round! What are you, a flat-earther? Do you believe the solar system is geocentric??
Anyway. I’m going to use today’s prompt as a kick-off into a subject that is pressing on my mind right now.
At Sunset Last Night…
Our local school board had convened and was debating.
They were debating whether or not to go back on their plan to offer both hybrid and 100% distance learning for Fall 2020, and to offer only 100% distance.
The superintendent had come out with a recommendation to cancel the hybrid learning option and go to only 100% distance learning, despite pressure from the white house.
By Sunrise Today…
The school board had voted. For the school year starting in September, our kids will all be staying home.
As I wrote earlier this month, I had agonized over the choice between 100% distance and hybrid learning for our rising kindergartener.
Now, I’m just annoyed that they put me through that emotional upheaval, only to remove the options.
Through the Wringer
Did we all really have to ride that rollercoaster? Was that absolutely necessary? Did I have to spend those days anxiously doubting? Did I have to shed those tears?
Nope. Turns out I didn’t.
I’m not going to criticize the school board’s decision. The decision is what it is, and given the state of things, hardly surprising.
But I am ticked off that they didn’t just make this call earlier and spare us the headache and trouble.
No One Knows
And yes, I know, I know. No one really knows what’s going to happen. But numbers have been going back up for a while now, and health experts have been warning that we’re not even out of the first wave, much less into the second.
So yeah, this is probably the right call. But it could have been made much earlier and at much less anxiety to parents had everyone just agreed to trust public health experts in the first place.
That’s all I really have to say. Nothing new. Nothing inspiring. Just that at sunset last night, we thought things were going one way. By sunrise this morning, we learned they’re going another.
And I now have this song stuck in my head:
You’ll be singing it all day, too now. You’re welcome!
Such a tiny little word, and yet! And yet how powerful!
I’ve come up with lots of different ways to say “no” these days. As a mom, I think it’s important to have a variety of ways to destroy your child’s happiness.
“Now’s not the time, love.” “Not likely.” “Never in a million years.” “Heck no!” “What, do you think I’m stupid or something?” “Ix-nay.” “Let’s all have a big tall glass of nope.”
It feels like I have a whole arsenal of “no” weapons, ready at a moment’s notice!
A Bit Carried Away
At one point, though, I realized that perhaps it was getting a bit excessive.
This dawned on me when my three-year-old threw himself on the floor and screamed when I told him, “No, you can’t play the piano.”
That’s normal, you think. Any three-year-old would throw a fit about something like that.
True, but hear me out.
I have fairly high noise tolerance. This piano has survived lessons from four kids: it’s not like it’s delicate. My kids aren’t that rough. We had just finished one activity and hadn’t yet moved on to another. He had washed his hands and everything.
Could It Be That…
Perhaps I was saying “no” too much??
But how can that be?! I must be FIRM with my children! They can’t have everything they want!
This is true. They cannot have everything they want. But not everything has to be a battle. After all, we got the piano for the kids to enjoy!
So after watching him scream for a minute, I thought to myself, “Do I really care enough about this situation to worry about seeming inconsistent if I change my mind?”
The answer was (you guessed it!), NO. No, I didn’t care that much.
“You know what, love? Why not? Of course you can play the piano. Go ahead.”
Picking Your Battles
His face immediately cleared, and he clambered up onto the piano stool and started plonking away. He didn’t last long, and soon became interested in his trains.
Noise gone. Happy child. Happy mother.
That was a battle that didn’t need to happen. Others definitely need to happen (like reasonable bedtime, brushing your teeth and OMG STOP EATING TOOTHPASTE HOW DID YOU FIND IT GAAAAAAH).
But when we’re all cooped up at home together, and things are tough enough as it is, picking your battles is an important skill to learn.
It’s also good to realize that sometimes…
“Yes” Is Powerful, Too
(Or, if “yes” feels too permissive, try, “What the heck? Knock yourself out, kid.”)