Thursday, April 28, 2011

Problems I Had with Toy Story 3

As an English major, I analyze things. I've seen any number of jokey infographics declaring that English teachers read way too much into things and that sometimes an author just meant that the paint on a wall was blue, whatever, get over it. That's fine, and I know I will probably read too much into things for the rest of my life, and now that I have a child I have more reason to do it with children's literature and film. So we watched Toy Story 3 a few weeks ago.

First, if you don't want to read spoilers, just stop reading here. It had been a while since I saw Toy Story 1 and 2 so I refreshed my memory on what exactly happened in them and, as a sequel and an end to a series, Toy Story 3 is totally fine. I like that they used the same voice actor for Andy in all three movies, I loved the ending, Bonnie was one of the cutest kids ever, and her toys were awesome in all kinds of ways. My problems all stemmed from the daycare element of the movie.

In case you hadn't noticed, Calvin's not in daycare. That's partly because we're lucky enough that he doesn't have to be, and partly because I'm a little panicky about the idea of leaving him with strange people in a strange place where I can't be with him. I have nothing against daycare as a concept--it's necessary and many are great, and I'll likely be utilizing one in the future. So here's the problems I had with this movie and this setting.

1. It's freaking scary. The toys sneak off to daycare, they meet the pink teddy bear who runs shit, they see the older kids playing peacefully with toys, and then they end up in the toddler room where they get absolutely demolished by these crazy two year olds. Not only that, but Lotso Huggin' Bear is pretty evil, and he never experiences the recognition that many villains do, especially in children's movies. Instead, he meets an unpleasant fate as a grill decoration on a truck. It's messed up. There is danger in the first two Toy Story movies--from the kid who wants to blow up the toys, to the collector's item who tries to take Woody from his friends--but this is a darker kind of nemesis, with conspiracy theories and outright meanness. It's more shadowy and I guess it makes sense that as the movies grow up, the dangers do too, but it even made me a little uncomfortable.

2. The idea that toys can only be played with as they're meant to be played with. This one gets tricky, so hear me out. Bonnie has a tea party with her toys and turns a dolly into a witch. She uses her imagination and plays with the toys creatively but respectfully. Cool. The two year olds in the Caterpillar room at the daycare smack the toys into railings, shove pieces up their noses, and paint using Jessie's hair. This is depicted as hurting the toys. I can remember multiple times that I played with my toys in fairly destructive ways as a child, and seeing the toys' reactions might make me think twice about it, if I had the capacity for reason, which a two year old lacks in large amounts. I also understand that many of the toys are listed as "for ages 3 and up." That's fine, but this is a recurring issue; Sid in the first movie takes his toys apart and rebuilds them into monstrosities. Instead of looking at this as a kind of cool scientific experiment, it's seen as Frankenstein-like and wrong.

3. The guilt trip. Kids, at some point you will be too old for your toys. That just happens. You don't have to hang on to them forever, and you don't have to feel bad about them going to someone who'll play with them. Andy ends up giving his whole toybox to Bonnie, which is great, but not everyone knows a Bonnie. There's nothing wrong with donating toys to daycare. Kids in daycare love those toys, however they play with them. They don't have to be kept pristine in an attic forever.

Anyway, I didn't like the movie that much, but maybe Calvin will. It's the first Pixar movie that I haven't gone head over heels for, EVER, so with a track record like that I'll keep going to see them. Plus, it was pretty, and you can't argue with that.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Not the Same

Brandon has introduced me to his coworkers, who are an awesome bunch of people. We've been hanging out with them occasionally, and as I'm starting to expand my social circle--to get to meet people and have interactions--it makes it suck a lot less up here. He also found out that the company is moving to a new location, because they don't have all the safety regulations met in their current buildings, so it gives us a reason to move out of this apartment complex when our lease is up. We were kind of looking for one anyway.

I'm looking at using my first paycheck from Sylvan to get my next tattoo--the Calvin and Hobbes one:

I don't know what it'll cost, but I'm excited and I picked an artist and this is HAPPENING. It's been two years since I got the turtle, which is small and hurt a lot. This one will be bigger (and probably hurt a lot). I like tattoos. I have the one after this picked out too, and from there...well, we'll see.

Friday, April 22, 2011

April 22, 2011

Dear Calvin,

Today you are ten months old, and I nearly forgot to do this letter. I've already written about all the things you've learned to do, like standing up and cruising, but you're so damn cute that I can't put it into words. Sometimes you just sit there and talk to yourself and then look up at me and grin with all four teeth showing, and it melts my heart because it makes me so happy.

It's getting harder to write these letters because I don't know what to say that I haven't already. This month we got to know some of Brandon's coworkers, including Chris and Kaitlin, whom you adore. I don't understand it; Chris is like a baby whisperer or something, and Kaitlin doesn't even mind it when you drool on her. We've lucked out meeting people who like babies. And I'm glad you're so good at being social, because it makes things a lot easier.

Anyway, I love you a whole lot, and I promise I'll try to think of more things to say next month.

Love, Mama

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dangerous Thinking

When it comes to politics, I find myself on the liberal side of things a lot of the time, especially regarding social issues. I voted for Obama and I don't regret that decision. I will probably vote for him again next November. I usually dislike Republican philosophies and policies, but I don't always agree with Democrats and as such am registered as unaffiliated. And I need to learn, above all else, to keep my mouth shut and not get involved. That makes me sad. Let me explain why.

I am not a person who seeks out confrontation. In fact, I avoid it at all costs. Anytime I try to get involved in political discussion--even just to offer a simple opinion--it leads to confrontation, people being angry, spouting their own opinions (reasoned or otherwise, but almost always vitriolic), and stressing me out. The problem is that I want to contribute to these discussions, I want to feel confident enough in my thoughts to engage in debate without shutting down and abandoning them. But the fervor with which people defend their opinions, with no regard for whether they're right or justified, scares me off. And so, I need to stop talking about it.

There are no right or wrong answers in politics. There is no way to say who's right or wrong except in hindsight. Even then it's murky. So I don't feel that I have the right to degrade someone else's opinion. If things turn personal or mean, I leave the conversation. It limits what I can do in a debate. So from here on out, I'm resolving to keep my thoughts to myself, not share them on facebook, not post about them on here, not discuss them in person. It's going to be hard and I'm probably going to fail, but I'm going to make a concerted effort.

If you're still reading, I commend you, and I would like to share with you the fact that Calvin is standing up against EVERYTHING:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sometimes--there's God--so quickly

I just finished mopping the entryway to our apartment. It was long overdue. There was some kind of sticky substance on the tiles that actually resulted in one of them being pulled up when it stuck to Molly's shoe the other week--makes me think they aren't very well adhered to begin with--and various scuffs and spots. I didn't do a perfect job, but I put some muscle into it, and got up most of the stains. After I finished I grabbed a few paper towels from the kitchen to dry it off, which I generally do in high-traffic areas, and as I was climbing back over the baby gate into the living room I see my adorable little nine-month-old determinedly crawling onto the tiles.

Well, he kind of followed me while I dried them, and I made sure he didn't attempt to lick the floor, so I'll assume we're okay. But as he moved around--on a surface that, mind you, he NEVER EVER GOES FOR, with an expression that said very clearly "Hey, Mommy has just exerted a lot of effort on this area of the house, so I should investigate"--he drooled all over my clean floor.

Then he laughed at the front door for no reason, and went off to attack the vacuum cleaner.

A year ago, I was facing the end of a job I no longer loved. My stress level was through the roof, and I was in a lot of pain from my pregnancy. My husband was looking at unemployment and we didn't know where we'd be at the end of the summer. We lucked out when things happened the way they did, and even if I'm not happy up here, we needed it. He needed the job, and I needed the opportunity to spend time with Calvin. The last nine months have been ridiculous. I don't know when he went from being this tiny, peaceful blob of a newborn to being the little terror he is today. Calvin six months ago couldn't have sat up on his own, let alone ripped the duct tape off of the drawers that I had hoped would keep them shut. Babies are scary.

I wonder sometimes if I should post more photos on here. I wonder if I should put clothes on my baby when he goes marauding around the house. I wonder if there's more I could be doing for his messed-up skin. I have all these little fears and worries, but I'll tell you this much: I'm happier in this role than I think I've ever been in my life. I do miss sleeping in on weekends, but when I walk into Calvin's room at 6:45AM on a Saturday and he's sitting up and banging on the crib bars and he smiles at me with his FOUR TEETH! and I think...yes, I'm exhausted, and yes, it's totally worth it.