I originally set out with a grander idea of writing about dealing with post-road-trip exhaustion, COVID anxiety, school opening concerns and a bunch of other heavy duty stuff, but the day got long, it’s 8:30 at night and I’d really like to have a beer and watch a movie.
And by “watch a movie,” what I mean is doing what a dad in his mid forties does…watch the first 20 minutes of a movie and fall asleep.
Anyway, I’ve decided to keep this post short and instead focus on a small moment from yesterday that made a big impression on me.
It was a long day, busy with work and kids, and I was pretty beat. I was eating dinner and kind of zoning out while the kids were watching Wreck It Ralph. Amelia came up to me and said, “Dad, I have a question.”
I love it when Amelia watches movies and asks me questions. As a writer and someone interested in storytelling and story structure, I am always impressed by her insightful questions. Lately, she’s taken to asking me, “Dad, what’s the problem in this movie?” And then we get to talk about characters, conflict and resolution.
She recently asked me what the problem is in The Muppet Movie. So we talked about the goal of Kermit making it to Hollywood, and how that get mixed in with his efforts to help others facing their own problems along the way. She soaked it all in and asked if there were other problems, and we talked about the antagonist, Doc Hopper, and how they had to keep ahead of him and deal with the fact that he was trying to stop them from reaching their goal.
But this time, she came up with something a little different. Amelia asked, “Dad, why do they call this movie Wreck It Ralph? Why don’t they call it Wreck It Ralph and Vanellope? Really, the movie is about both characters.”
For those of you who haven’t seen Wreck It Ralph, Vanellope is a tough little girl who befriends Ralph. They are both outsiders and loners, and their unlikely friendship brings out the best in both of them.
I’ve had moments of pride, both as a parent and as a writer, and hearing my daughter ask that question makes both lists. I smiled and said, “Amelia, that is a great question, and a really excellent point. We need to ask those kinds of questions more often, and when you write your own stories, I bet you’ll include everyone.”
And then we talked a little about how both characters help each other, and how important both are to the story. I told her I was proud of how observant she is and how much she thinks about stories. She smiled her infectious smile and said, “Thanks Dad,” and went back to join her brother watching the movie.
It’s very easy to look around and think very little of humanity, and fear we are falling backwards. But I think there are little signs, sometimes in the most quiet and unexpected places, that give me hope that indeed our best days are ahead of us.