We saw the movie “Wonder” last weekend.
Carson fell asleep half way through. Beckett watched every minute of it with interest. Pam was touched to tears throughout. One week later, I’m still thinking about the movie and its message.
The film is incredibly moving and I’m thrilled Beckett’s teacher is reading the book – of which the movie is loosely based — aloud to her class because it deals with many messages and values we as parents want our children to understand and embrace.
All too often society’s rigors lead parents down unhealthy paths. We get distracted from the big picture by the minutia of daily life raising a family. I admit to sometimes being detoured by these challenges, which I think arise from micromanaging children. Rather than worrying why Beckett’s enthusiasm for a sport seems to be waning, why he seems to dread saying his prayers at night and questioning why he did that when he should have done this, it’s important to take a step back every now and again and remember he’s a 9-year-old child who is kind-hearted, empathetic and devoted to his friends and family. It’s what’s in our kid’s hearts that truly matters.
I know with both my kids they have the best of intentions. They mean well with everything they do. That’s not to say they aren’t subject to misgivings and lapses in judgment because they are more often than I wish, but I know what their nature is and that’s important to me. They would never intend to hurt someone’s feelings intentionally.
This, in my opinion, is what the movie as well as the book is about. It’s about bullying, personal responsibility, making the right choices, the ability to overcome challenges, friendship and kindness.
The quote that is introduced early on in the movie by a middle school teacher is my major takeaway from the movie. The quote, from Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, reads, “When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.”
I could dissect that precept for paragraphs, but to me it’s a simple message. When in doubt, take the path toward kindness because it’s never the wrong option. It will never lead you astray. It’s not more important to be right than it is to be nice. Kindness may not always be the easiest route but it’s the most rewarding.
The quote to me is about the crossroads in our lives that we all face from time to time. We all deal with situations that are unpleasant. It’s how we manage them that reflects our internal compass. Personally, I deal with unpleasant people all too often in my workplace with readers who take umbrage over something that’s been in the paper. I prefer to hear their concerns and threats, ignore the personal insults (if they come) and take the high road whenever possible. In other words, I prefer to “choose kind,” although there have been times in my career when I have not by engaging immaturely. I am ashamed of those instances.
Another key piece that hit home in the movie was the role of the older daughter, Via. At the risk of making a proverbial apples-to-oranges comparison, I related a lot of what Via went through in the movie to what I think Beckett feels from time to time with his little brother, Carson.
Auggie, the central figure in the movie who suffers from craniofacial deformities, has been the centerpiece of his family for many years, especially when he is introduced into a school setting for the first time after years of being homeschooled.
His older sister had a significant part in the movie. She’s not jealous of Auggie, who certainly has tremendous struggles compared to her, but there is mounting resentment for her parents because of their attention and fascination with ensuring Auggie’s life is as peaceful and positive as possible. She doesn’t get the same treatment. Her parents take her for granted.
I related a lot to this because it’s something I think about often with Beckett, particularly on long days away from him for Carson’s doctor’s appointments and therapies. Guilt is a powerful thing. It eats me up at times.
I don’t want him to resent his little brother, who due to the unique challenges he faces as a non-verbal child on the spectrum requires extra attention. I want him to be his biggest supporter. I want him to be knowledgeable on his brother’s issues so he can explain to friends who may inquire about him. I want him to be another set of responsible eyes and ears for his little brother.
Via is just that for her little brother. She is an amazing big sister and will do anything for her brother, especially when he’s not feeling positive about his disability, but she has her moments when she wants him to know life is not always about him. That she, too, has her worries and in some ways is the subject of bullying in her high school. She has her struggles as well but doesn’t often have the support system from her distracted parents as her little brother does. Nonetheless, her love and adoration for her brother is obvious.
The movie is a must see in my opinion. The fact it’s still on my mind a week later confirms to me it’s a special movie. Next I’m off to read the book.