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Wide Open Spaces…That We Never Saw – The Week in Review

Days off from school either fill parents with dread (“Now what am I supposed to do with them?!”), joy (“I finally get to spend quality time with my kids!”) or, as in our case, both…

8am-12pm – Yay!
12-4pm – Is it bedtime yet?

Last Friday was an exception. We jumped on the tollway and headed to the Morton Arboretum to check out the Lego exhibit. We’re Arboretum Amateurs, which means from the 1700 acres available to explore, we covered approximately 1. Our kids refused to leave the Children’s Garden, specifically any feature that involved getting soaking wet. There are only so many times you can say, “please stop hollering and hopping across the rocks like frogs on crack,” before your kids land firmly in the muck.

Poor Olivia suffered not 1, but 2 falls, including a face-plant off the side of a tree house. Fortunately, a kind dad was there to dust her off and make sure she was OK as I sprinted across the playlot.

No wait – that’s what should have happened. What actually happened was Olivia landed at the feet of a clueless dad who looked down at the bleeding, crying 4-year-old, shrugged, then went back to his iPhone 6. Tamping down my impulse to slap him till he bled, I scooped Olivia up, shot him a dirty glare, and resolved to enjoy the rest of the 3-day weekend.

Other highlights included:

Midnight Circus
If you’ve ever wanted to run away and join the circus, this would be the one. Yes, the tent was hot. Yes, our kids begged for popcorn to which these 1st and 2nd-gen FOB parents said, “No. You have food at home. Now watch the show.” And yes, Nick brought a book to read. But the show was fantastic, Nick eventually looked up from his latest SF novel, and the performers were incredibly gracious as they signed sweat-stained programs.

Paper Planes
A friend recommended this film. Good, clean family entertainment…in other words, not what I was expecting from the country who gave us Animal Kingdom and The Babadook. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve, which our cynical American kids were not expecting since they kept asking when the other Ugg was going to drop. They were eventually won over, nay, inspired, as evidenced by the paper planes covering every inch of our living room, bedrooms, and front yard.
Available on Amazon Video

Monkey Kingdom
The kids may be too young for 30Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, but they can still enjoy the genius that is Tina Fey thanks to our Sunday nature series. Monkeys may look cute from afar, but up close they are petty and vicious. (I do wonder whether the Fey’s Mean Girls history inspired the choice of narrator because the queens of this monkey pack were straight-up bishes!) Never one to stay silent during a movie – must be related to Lori – Nick offered non-stop commentary, punctuating everything with, “because that’s what I saw on Wild Kratts.”

Iris
I’m neither a fashionista nor a Noo Yawker, so I thought Carrie Donovan and Iris Apfel were the same person. This fascinating documentary not only set me straight, but also made me much more tolerant of Olivia’s AM clothing choices. (I am nevertheless counting the days until she can wear the school uniform.)

Reading
In my spare time (ha!), I read Richard Wiseman’s The Luck Factor and Night School – breezy, informative, research-informed books on a good life and a good sleep, respectively. On the nightstand this week are Emotional Intelligence and Radical Acceptance, or is it Emotional Acceptance and Radical Intelligence?

Either way, I need them all.

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News Flash: Adopted Kids Are Bitter, Vengeful and Murderous

Light/Dark
Good/Evil
Natural/Adopted

Didn’t get the memo?  No worries.

The new Avengers movie lays it out for you.  Loki, the Big Bad, is adopted, which explains why he killed 80 people in 2 days.  Phew.  Thank goodness that’s settled.

C’mon, Joss.  Really?

You gave us high school as hell in Buffy, warned of technology’s dark side in Dollhouse, and explored the costs of chemical warfare in Firefly.  Big ideas with snappy dialogue is your thing.

In other words, I expected better.

While the audience chuckled, I fumed for the rest of the movie.  Why?  Because it’s an easy joke that plays to a common stereotype. Why not make a crack about Nick Fury being in a gang (‘cause he’s BLACK!).  Or Black Widow being a ho (cause she’s a CHICK!).

Loki is not a murderer because he’s adopted, Joss.

He’s just batsh** crazy.

Am I equally crazy for being angry over a throwaway line in a summer movie?  Nope.  A few key words on Google pulled up a slew of commentary including the following:

“I’ve read from other sources that some oversensitive adoptive parents have a problem with that line. I’ll take that hit. I may be oversensitive about it, but you know what? As an adoptive parent, it’s my job to be sensitive to it. It’s part of the gig.”
– Of Masks and Men

“Think about what that one dismissive little line says: ‘He’s adopted.’ In other words, it’s not Thor’s fault that Loki is such a jerk. Loki’s not a real member of the family.”
73adoptee

“The joke in “The Avengers” just confirms for children waiting for adoption their perception that they are unwanted, unlovable, or different.”
– DRBethRobinson

“…a lot of people are calling the line what it is:  a needless, throwaway, out-of-character joke at adoptive families’ expense.  They’re bothered by it, and they’d prefer the line not be in the movie.  They’re also surprised that a writer with an ear like Joss’ didn’t catch the negatives of this line, and they’re criticizing him for that.”
– The Backfile

“I guess it would be cool if we could all give those seemingly simple one-liners a second look, and that goes for all movies and stereotypes. How does that joke make others feel? Is that joke necessary? What message is this movie sending? What positive conversations can we have from this?”
Embracing the Odyssey

No matter where words are spoken, they have power when they are heard.

Even in a Marvelous universe.
Even in an ordinary world.

“Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.”
– Buddha (Hindu Prince Gautama Siddhartha, the founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C.)