Today Julianna turned 7.
Less than 48 hours ago, I was living vicariously through my friend Corey as he was literally hours away from going to the hospital with his wife to meet their 1st child. I found myself easily reliving the emotions associated with the anticipation of the “about to meet my kid” situation. He and I texted a bit earlier in the day about how “today you aren’t a dad but tomorrow you will be.” I don’t think I will ever forget that feeling. I’m sure Corey won’t either.
I haven’t written a lot recently, and when I have, life’s events have pushed me to write less “fun” posts than I normally like but I do seem to have this neat little tradition of birthday posts and discussing the year that was.
As you might know, although I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it here before, Julianna doesn’t watch movies. She has been to a movie theater 1 time (Winnie the Pooh) and cried during that. I, on the other hand, love movies and have been to a movie theater, well, more than 1 time. It isn’t that she doesn’t enjoy stories, or even that she is scared. The “problem” she has is that she’s extremely sensitive and gets very emotional and uncomfortable when anyone (including a potential “bad guy”) runs into any sort of strife. Some form of strife is a common theme in just about every movie ever made. In the aforementioned Pooh movie, she became upset at a point when Winnie’s balloon floated away and he had to go track it down.
The one movie that she had true success with was Singin’ in the Rain. She loves to sing and dance and entertain and in general, that movie is filled with that sort of stuff and the “strife” is pretty over-the-top comical.
We’ve tried, literally for years, to get her to watch movies. We’ve tried bribing her to no avail. Most of her friends enjoy movies and at her age, its starting to be a thing that they like to do together and my wife and I have feared that her lack of interest in movies would be an added hurdle in social situations.
Now, before we get on with the movie thing…
I’m not sure at what age one becomes able to be introspective about “pride”. I believe we learn the definition of the word before we truly understand what it means. I’m sure that happens at different times for everyone. In retrospect, for me, I’m not sure I truly knew what pride was until I became a parent. I’ve written before about witnessing various accomplishments that belonged to Julianna and to Chloe, outside of myself and outside of my control that gave me an overwhelming sense of pride. Relatively speaking, these accomplishments are sometimes “large” and sometimes “small” but always awesome in their own ways. Whether it was seeing her face on the stage as the curtain opened for her first ballet recital, fighting through the nervousness of getting on the bus on her way to summer camp for the first time, or getting out of my car on the 2nd day of kindergarten with a new-found confidence and resolve that didn’t exist 24 hours earlier, she continues to figure herself out and continues to create prideful moments for me.
As for me, I’ve never been a particularly emotional person, at least outwardly. That being said, I’d be lying if I said that each time she has one of these types of accomplishments, it is all I can handle to not celebrate as if I personally just hit a walk-off homerun to win the World Series.
So, back to the movie…
A few days ago my wife suggested we try the movie bribe again. The new Annie movie was available onDemand. We would offer a trip to Toys R’ Us to get some of these [ridiculous] Shopkins toys that both Julianna and Chloe are into these days. Annie was the big movie from last year that we tried to convince them to go see in the theater. They have both seen parts of the original movie because, like Singin’ in the Rain, it is filled with singing and dancing…and a dog: the formula for a winning experience.
Okie dokie, we’ll give it a go.
I am in the car with the girls and propose the movie/bribe. Chloe goes all in, immediately. Julianna gives me the dramatic/tense pause and then says, “Ok, I’ll try.”
I call my wife. Get the popcorn ready and fire up the tv. We are coming in hot and need that movie playing seconds after we arrive home.
We sit down, the 5 of us (including Cassie The Dog – another story; another time), on the couch and the movie begins. We are going to get through the next 100 minutes or so. If you haven’t seen the new version of Annie, spoiler alert, its basically the same story as the original: Little girl lives in orphanage/group home with nasty drunk lady (Ms. Hannigan in both) and for this reason or that goes to live with filthy rich single dude. Dude, against everything in his nature, starts to enjoy having Annie around. Nasty drunk lady plots in one way or another to scam the rich dude out of a lot of money by creating fake parents for Annie. Everything gets figured out just as Annie is leaving with her “parents”. Rich dude rescues Annie, adopts her, and gets together with his assistant. Dance break.
We get about 5 minutes into the movie before Julianna starts getting upset because the girls Annie lives with are clearly not treated very nicely by that bitch Hannigan. Even though Julianna knows the whole story and what happens next, she immediately says she wants to forfeit the toy store and she’d like to go in the other room. We persist. We reassure her that she knows the story and that everyone is going to be ok and that having these types of problems is the way the story is told so that we can better understand the happy ending. She powers through that spell and spends the next hour or so quietly watching and occasionally even smiling.
We get to the fake parents portion of the movie and the water works are open for business. Same deal as last time other than one thing: She doesn’t ask to leave the room. She doesn’t explicitly say so but I think she decided that she would own her sadness and just watch; she would really try to get through.
She cried for the next 20 minutes. She was very sad that Annie was going to miss Mr. Stacks (formerly Daddy Warbucks in the original). She was very sad that Mr. Stacks was going to miss Annie. She was even sad that Ms. Hannigan, had realized that she had made a mistake and felt badly about it.
And then, they rescued Annie. Dance break.
Here’s the weird thing, the movie wasn’t great but it was better than I thought it would be. That being said, I found myself feeling slightly emotional at the end, but not about the movie. Huge smile on her face. High 5s for everyone. She had done it. She had sat through the entire movie, never once leaving the room or even getting up. She powered through. Toys R’ Us, here we come.
She didn’t win the Superbowl, invent a flying car, or cure cancer. She watched a movie. The whole thing; start to finish. It was a big accomplishment for her. The most recent of many I’m sure.
On the way to school this morning, Chloe asked her if she would want to watch Annie again any time soon. Her response was a question to me:
“Daddy, is Cinderella (the new movie), available to watch on the TV?”
That’s my girl.
Happy birthday Julianna.