Today I was going to write about my new friend, Erin – but I just need more time to process and think.
Instead – I’m going to write about our cinema experience today. Generally, Tucker hates going to movies. Today, I bribed him to go to Inside Out with free popcorn and a matinee showing. I’ve learned matinee is key because they are far fewer people and many more seat options.
The movie is about an 11-year-old girl named Riley. She is moving to a new city and we actually get a look inside of her brain and how her emotions work together (or not) to make decisions. The emotions that are center stage include joy, sadness, anger, fear, and disgust.
I really, really wanted him to see this movie. Why? It’s become an item of discussion within the autism community.
According to the Southern California Sun News & Review, “However, parents with children of special needs are discovering their children are having an exceptional positive reaction to the movie, where the intangible understanding of emotions have become tangible.”
For the first time in quite some time Tucker was captivated by a movie.
Throughout the movie it is quite obvious that ‘Joy’ rules this character’s ‘motherboard’ (phrase coined by Tucker with regards to this movie). The character is generally optimistic and is continually trying to look on the bright side – but then some stuff happens and Joy realizes that she also needs Sadness to help Riley live a full life.
My favorite quote of the movie? Said by Sadness, “Crying helps me slow down and obsess over the weight of life’s problems.” Ha! So true…too true and soon you’ll read evidence of that.
As soon as we began the journey home Tucker proclaimed, “Mom, you are like Riley in the movie. Joy is at your motherboard all the time. I like that.”
I like that he opened the door for me. I knew I wanted to have a conversation but didn’t know how I was going to start it.
Estelle piped up, “I don’t think the emotion in my brain was in the movie. I’m pretty sure I have worry in charge of my motherboard.” Then she laughed – and we followed, because she was right. Always worrying about something – but we have done lots of great work to help her separate anxiety from worry. They are certainly intertwined. Anxiety is all-consuming…worry is a thought process that allows a logical thought to cycle back and prevent worry. Teaching her to separate the two has allowed her to have Joy as her ‘co-pilot’ (in her words). Thank goodness.
I finally asked, “Tucker – who do you think runs your motherboard? Was the emotion in the movie?”
He was quiet…looking straight ahead…then he quietly said, “Yes. Fear.”
I nodded, that’s what I thought he would say. My heart melted a bit and a tear began to form and I knew I was about to obsess over the weight of life’s problems (thanks, Sadness).
When I first read all of the symptoms that come with having a hypersensitivity to the vestibular system I thought of my sweet boy. Factors include moving slowly and cautiously, avoiding taking risks, clinging to an adult, appearing terrified of falling even if there is not a real risk, and so many others. All of these are because of fear. A fear that supersedes logic.
But not just that fear…
Fear of failure
Fear of not being ‘normal’
Fear of letting people down
Fear of not being good enough
Why the tear? Because fear will hold him back.
So I asked, “Why do you think that is?”
He shrugged his shoulders and a tear formed.
We sat in silence for quite some time. Finally he said, “I want it to be Joy. Do you think I can change that?”
“Yes, Tucker. Yes. I think you can do anything you want. I think Fear is an important part of who you are and I don’t want you to ever think you should try to be someone else. Fear keeps you safe, but fear can also stand in the way of you experiencing parts of life. I also see a lot of Joy in you – so it’s there.”
When we arrived home he decided to take an online quiz that tells you which character you are most like. Because we all know everything you read on the Internet is true (and WAY more reliable than mom).
His result? Joy.
He proudly showed me the result, “See mom, it can be joy.”
Yes – yes, it can.