Everything I need to know, I learned from Dory the fish.
But, seriously…she is really, really, really smart. She tells it like it is. (Plus, she speaks whale. How cool is that?)
Let me back up a little.
I discovered recently that the movie theater we always go to offers something called “Reel Movies for Real Needs” one Saturday per month. Their motto is “Lights up. Volume Down. Hearts Open.” This is how they describe it:
We understand that sometimes it is difficult or uncomfortable for families with special needs children to attend movies together. Marcus Theaters Reel Movies for Reel Needs is a specially designed program to serve families with special needs such as autism or other challenges, who seldom attend movies. Reel Movies for Real Needs creates a welcoming and comfortable environment – lower sound, lights up – where families with children who need accommodations will be able to share the experience of seeing family friendly films at a theater.
Easton has never been into TV or movies. He will occasionally look toward the TV when good music is playing (“The Office” theme song, for example), but he has never sat and watched a single TV show, and definitely not a movie. “Finding Nemo” was the first thing Easton was ever interested in. Actually, to be more accurate, the Finding Nemo closing credits (and ONLY the closing credits) interested him. He could watch them over…and over…and over, and can imitate the actions of the fish that swim through the screen while the names are scrolling. (We have the movie on our iPad, and the closing credits have saved the day during several public outings.) Over the last few months, we have tried to play the movie from the beginning to see if it would capture his attention at all. Lately, he has started to watch it for about 30 minutes before getting up to do something else.
When I found out “Finding Nemo” was being re-released in theaters in 3D, I figured there was no way I could take him to see it because the thought of trying to get him to wear 3D glasses is…well…absolutely ludicrous.
But, it has always been one of my favorite Pixar movies, and I thought, if there will ever be a chance to introduce him to the movie theater experience, this would be it. I wondered if there was a theater that was showing it in 2D and decided I just might be brave enough to try it, even though it might turn into a total disastrous meltdown.
Then, I found the “Reel Movies for Real Needs” showing for this weekend.
I took both boys, fully prepared for the possibility of having to leave early. We were the first customers of the day, and this is what he did in the lobby for about 10 minutes:
He was completely content looking at the lights on the very tall ceiling. I honestly didn’t know if I would be able to get him into the theater at this point. (I lured him in with a snack.)
I warned my older son that we might not make it through the whole thing. His response: “Well, I sure hope we make it to that very last part because that’s his favorite!”
Right. That’s the hard part. Making it all the way to that very last part.
He sat on my lap most of the time. He would yell “BEBO!” (Nemo!) from time to time if he heard the name being said in the movie. He yelled “Hoi, Hoi, Hoi, Hoi!” over and over when the seagulls were saying “Mine, Mine, Mine, Mine!” He lost interest about an hour into it and sat on the floor between my legs, alternating between playing with my toes and hitting the back of the seat in front of me. (There was only four other people in the theater, and they were several rows in front of us…whew!) He never got upset. He never tried to wander away. He didn’t bolt for the stairs where there was a very appealing railing with lots of parallel lines.
It got his attention again toward the end, and we made it. His favorite part.
Everyone else had left. The clean-up guy was cleaning up. We didn’t move. I sat there, with Easton in my lap, happy and relieved that we actually came to a MOVIE THEATER with no meltdowns! I didn’t know if we would ever be able to take Easton to a movie. He proved me wrong.
Back to the beginning of my post. Dory says “when life gets you down, you know what you gotta do? Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming…”
I can’t get her little song out of my head today. Her message is clear, but, to be honest, I hadn’t ever really thought about how wise her words are. I think it might be my new motto.
Side note: we actually went straight from swimming lessons to the movie. I’m sure I will eventually write a blog post about high and low points of swimming lessons, but I feel compelled to include this photo to go along with the “Just keep swimming” motto:
This was one happy moment that was in between a lot of challenging moments. His instructor, who is amazing…just kept swimming.
Okay…back to the movie-going experience. There is one other thing Dory says in the movie that struck me. Nemo’s dad is telling her that he promised Nemo nothing would ever happen to him. She says, “That’s a funny thing to promise…you can’t never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him.”
I will be the first to admit: I am, and probably always will be, slightly over-protective of Easton. I don’t want anything bad to happen to him. I don’t want him to be bullied. I don’t want him to get hurt. But…most likely, he will. It would be an impossible task to not let anything happen to him. Should I not take him to new experiences out of fear that he won’t be able to handle it? How would he learn if nothing ever happened to him? How will he experience anything new (like, say, a movie theater) if we don’t try it? (That being said…the claws will come out if anyone messes with him. Just…yeah…mama bear claws.)
This movie was a milestone for Easton, and for me. I didn’t know if he could do it. But I did know, with the “Reel Movies for Real Needs” that if he did have a meltdown, or start doing some strange things, no one would stare. No one would judge him or wonder what was wrong with him. That is what got me to the theater today.
Otherwise known as “my breakfast.”