Monday, April 25, 2016

Adoption and Dolphin Tale: One Mom’s Review

Disclaimer:  Our family doesn’t own a television and it’s possible, due to being screen deprived, my children are more impacted by audio/visual media than is typical.  Also, I’ve never publicly reviewed any product before and I’m not being paid to review these movies. Winter and Hope’s stories have profoundly impacted our family and I can’t help but share.

Photo Source

A few months ago, I stumbled upon the movie Dolphin Tale on Amazon. By the time I had finished reading the most helpful reviews, I had tears streaming down my face. While I adore my two sons who entered our family through adoption, I am constantly searching for ways to love them in ways they can accept. After reading the reviews, I purchased Dolphin Tale because I was convinced that watching it with my children was going to be a way to love them well. After learning Dolphin Tale 2 was also based on a true story, I purchased it and both movies have become favorites for all of my children. For reasons deeper than I probably even understand, all of my children identify with Dolphin Tale characters and the movies encourage them as they desire to live bravely.

Dolphin Tale is based on the true story of Winter, a bottlenose dolphin, who lost her tail and survives. Her story continues in Dolphin Tale 2, and there, we are also introduced to Hope- a young dolphin facing her own obstacles. When our family watched the first movie together, I saw a beautiful story about Winter who overcame physical obstacles and about relationships forged by a team committed to her good. After my nine-year-old enthusiastically asked to watch it for the third time, I began watching a different story as I watched it with him:  A story where Winter lost her mom, like he lost his first mom.

He watches the movie again and again noting Winter is OKAY.  

He feels this obstacle. Winter’s happy. She has a “family.” She enjoys her family. Her unusual “family” clearly adores her.
As I watch Dolphin Tale with another of my sons, I’m reminded that, against all odds, Winter swims. She swims well. We watch how hard Winter works just like my son is also daily overcoming obstacles due to his early childhood experiences and losses. He tackles those challenges with enthusiasm while donning a smile capable of lighting the darkest cavern.

We love watching Winter do the same- together.

Even our oldest biological son connects with the Dolphin Tale movies. As we watch Dolphin Tale together, we watch Sawyer- a child who didn’t ask for his life challenges and who is lacking specific direction- find friendship and family in unlikely places. As Sawyer invests heavily in others, it’s as if a weight is lifted from his shoulders and he’s free to confidently be himself.

As this child watches Dolphin Tale, he wants to be brave and unaware of self like Sawyer.

Also, because Winter is a dolphin, rather than a human, her story isn’t too overwhelming for our family to connect with. My children are not dolphins. None of them have been “rescued.” The story hits close enough to home without anyone having to relive traumas each time they view it.

As our family connects with Winter’s story, we are all inspired and energized to keep going especially because life is full of challenges. I’d recommend this movie for any human being because the message is one of overcoming, teamwork, grit, and the value of unlikely friendships. It’s about brokenness being the avenue to deep connections that eventually lead to unexpected healing. It’s a story about how the “giver” becomes the “receiver” of intangible gifts that far outweigh what he was ever capable of giving in the first place.

I’m better off remembering all of the above, and it is a gift that these movies are presented in a manner that is healthy for our entire family to enjoy together. As we watch together, we connect with each other.

Each of my children’s responses to Winter’s story tells me that my initial hunch while reading Amazon reviews was correct:  Sharing the Dolphin Tale movies with my children is one tangible way I can show my love for them and they can accept it.

Which is Priceless.

I share the story of our amazing kids meeting a very special dolphin HERE.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Rage Against the Pinterest Kid’s Room

When I was a kid, I had a FANCY room. My double bed (that I shared with my sister), was adorned in a yellow Holly Hobbie bedspread my Mom had purchased from the Pottery Barn Kids of our time:  JCPenney.

She even went through the pains of painting the walls yellow.

It was straight up tricked out in a very 1980’s kind of way.

Which is the same type of way I hope my children’s rooms are decorated.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve dreamt of creating bedrooms for my children that Pottery Barn would want to copy and use in their next catalog and of DIY projects that would be pinned on Pinterest thousands of times over.

But, here’s the thing. A few weeks ago we had some beautiful weather. I seized the opportunity to roll out three-foot-wide paper for my children to paint on on our back deck. For the better part of two hours they delightedly created masterpieces. My eight-year-old’s masterpiece featured his personally developed initial-superhero-slogan complete with his brother’s muddy footprints on it. When his paint was dry, he begged me to allow him to hang his creation on his bedroom wall using two-and-a-half inch, blue paint tape. I hesitated, knowing it would be a full-wall mural, but relented due to the joy on his face. It’s his wall.

And I want it to stay his wall.

He’s happier decorating with his carefully-designed-personal-logo-on-muddy-footprint-paper than he would be if I dropped thousands of dollars and countless hours creating my idea of utopia for him. [Tweet This]

Beyond having cute stuff, I need to give myself the space to love my precious people. If I give them adorable stuff, and they in turn use it to help me clean the toilet, I might feel angry. I could find them ungrateful and disrespectful when they don’t respect all the thought and work I put into their space. When I relinquish some control and keep things simple, I have the opportunity to admire their wonder and creativity and I have less to worry about or take personally.

While growing up I didn't know anyone with a room nicer than my own, I do remember seeing movies where girls had canopy beds and matching white furniture, and I never envied them. I was thankful for my room because my mom didn’t ask me any questions when I decided to tastefully decorate my yellow walls with posters of Kirk Cameron from my Teen Bop magazines. My room was my space to express my interests (however shallow). The perfect princess bedroom could have complicated things.

If you, like me, are rethinking what makes a child’s bedroom great, I’m sharing all the tips I have so far.

Nicole’s Five Ingredients to a Rockin’ Kid’s Bedroom

1. Clean, Warm or Cheerful Paint on the Walls

2. As Much Open Space as Possible for Play

3. Safe Bed with Simple Bedding According to Child’s Individual Taste

4. Remove all Danger (Lead Paint, Rusty Items, Sharp Items...)

5. Allowance for Child to Make Reasonable, Unique “Improvements”

That’s it. Because, as I relinquish control, I’m free to appreciate my child's creativity. And he knows I support his individuality.

He knows I enjoy him.

That’s far better than being featured in any catalog.

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