“I’ll eat you up, I love you so!” Where the Wild Things Are, based on the classic children’s story by Maurice Sendak, was a treat for both children and adults in our house.
For me, the mom, seeing into a world that was created by Max, was deeply moving and sad. He wanted to be able to solve all the problems of the world, by being King. He wanted to solve all the problems that he, himself, had in his world. Seeing him realize he couldn’t, and seeing his sadness and the sadness of the wild things over his inability to make everyone happy at the same time, has hard for me.
Of course, my kids didn’t pick up on any of that. For them, it was wild beasts throwing themselves through the air and breaking things for fun and having a wild rumpus. It all seemed like great fun. I think the parts that were sad, and melancholy for me, they just saw as the slow parts of the movie where they weren’t paying much attention. Those were the parts that made me hold them close to me while we sat together on the sofa.
There is an inherent sadness to being a kid. There is this world created inside of a child’s imagination, where the couch really is a pirate ship, and the carpet is a tossing sea, and the world plays along, and all of life is play. Until, we are called to wash our hands for dinner, and that ruins the game. We stomp pouting about the interruption, that is our parents wanting to feed us. And we get in trouble for having a bad attitude, and what the heck? No one understands me. And isn’t life hard?
We talked about it again this morning over breakfast. The problems that the wild things were having, were the sorts of issues that would arise on an Elementary School playground. There were monsters who felt left out, who felt like no one paid attention to them, there were bossy monsters, and emotionally abrupt monsters, monsters who threw temper tantrums, and monsters who made up imaginary friends and left the group. There was loneliness, isolation, and favoritism portrayed within the wild thing community. There were best friends and breaks to friendships. All of these things, I think Ben saw to a degree. They were just so much more real to me. Looking back, I can see it all so clearly. At the time, as a child, I struggled with many of these same frustrations, and seeing them as Max did, and the efforts he made to solve them was stunning.
What was even more beautiful was the moment, when he looked at one of the monsters in the midst of a conflict, and said, “I wish you all had a mom.” He seems to gain an understanding of how difficult it must be for a mom to make each member of the family happy, herself happy, her boss and the rest of the world happy. It is difficult, but he realizes his mom works hard to get there, and he wants to go home.
Have you seen the movie? What were your favorite parts? What did you come away with?