Posts for Disney

An Adoptive Parents’ Guide to Finding Dory

Go Girl! - Allison Kenny - July 5, 2016


Finding Dory was aDORable, am I right? Who doesn’t love Ellen and remember Finding Nemo like it was yesterday? Nothing better than packing up your family, getting your popcorn buttered and settling in for a sweet afternoon at the movies. Unless you are an adoptive parent. If you adopted your child, you do your research before going to any movie. You know that for some reason, every other kids movie out there includes protagonists who are orphans, in foster care, have dead parents, mean parents, tragic separation from siblings they love or in the case of Finding Dory, spend the entire movie in a desperate search for their birth parents. Sigh.

I get it. The worst nightmare in the psyche of any child is to be deeply alone in the world and abandoned by their parents. I’m not a therapist, but I imagine that for kids who are securely attached, seeing their worst fears play out on the big screen feels good because it externalizes the nightmares and ties them up with a happy ending. Then, the typical kids get to hug the parents who birthed them and feel safe, secure and aware of how loved they are.

But what if the nightmare of losing your family, being abandoned or mistreated actually happened to you? Seeing it played out would not feel good. It would be scary, retraumatizing or humiliating. They would be anxious on the way to any movie and have trouble sleeping after, even though they begged to go see it.

As a parent, I have to weigh the pros and cons before seeing any flick. I heard that Finding Dory could kick up lots of grief but that it wasn’t too scary. I also knew that all my daughter’s friends at camp were seeing it and talking about it. Having things to connect with peers about is a definite pro when it comes to my quirky girl. Plus, her big cousin was in town from Texas and wanted to go. We didn’t want to deny them the sweet memory of seeing this movie together. So…we went.

We ate a big dinner before and didn’t get candy. Instead, we brought tiny treasures wrapped in tissue paper. When our daughter got anxious during the movie, she turned her eyes to her lap where she could unwrap a little something to focus on instead. While Dori was having flashbacks about the major loss in her childhood, my daughter opened and found a tiny shell. While Dori was longing for her Mommy & Daddy, my little girl found a tiny square of clay to squish into shapes. When she got bored with a treasure, she’d put it in Mama Lynn’s purse and watch the movie awhile. Then, she opened another. Bringing sensory tools to the movies was not something we’d tried before. After Inside Out, we spent 20 extra minutes in the theater holding her while she sobbed. The Good Dinosaur sent her into so many tears, I had to bring her home and rock her like a baby until she calmed down.

But I’m glad we tried Finding Dory before giving up on going to movies all together. With tools to manage her triggers, our daughter got to see a girl lead character take center stage in her own life. Dory and lots of the animals in this film have a vulnerability that makes them different. Dory’s “short term memory loss” and distractibility were a wonderful mirror of my daughter’s special needs. Dory is loveable and adored. Just like my little girl. Dory is a leader. She has courage. She overcomes her biggest challenges. I want my daughter to get to see examples like these of girls in media.

After the movie, my daughter’s review was “ I liked it Mommy. But some parts were sad.” OMG she used a feeling word! Success.

Go see Dory. Pack treasures and tissues. Let me know how it goes.

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The Growth of Self Love…1 Package of Fruit Snacks at a Time

Go Girl!, Media, Pop Culture - Lynn Johnson - August 11, 2015

The other day while shopping, the Squirrel picked out these fruit snacks to put in her lunches to take to camp…

I actually considered it for a second.  I figured, how much harm could it do?  I am learning that anything that gets her excited to jump out of bed and into the day is usually worth it.

Then, I looked at the nutritional content and realized that these fruit snacks had just as much potential to rot her body as they do to tear down any shred of positive self-concept she has developed.  So I said “No. Not these ones, Honey.”  And I picked out these instead…

“Are the other ones too expensive, Mommy?”  Because that must be the reason, right?

“No.  The other ones are basically junk food.  These are just better for you.” And, of course, double the price of the princess ones.

Before she could argue for her selection, I jumped in.  “If you want princesses, I can give you princesses.  How about we buy these ones that I picked out and I’ll put some princesses on them?”

“How can you do THAT?!”

“Just watch.”

So, we got home and I went to my computer.  I searched “disney princesses” in Google images and found this image.  I printed it out, cut out the princesses and, with the magic of Scotch tape, we had ourselves some princess fruit snacks…

She has loved them so far.  Here is the one from yesterday that she insisted on keeping (and hanging on her wall) even after she threw out the fruit snack wrapper…

I have to acknowledge and honor the things she likes even if they are not my fave.  But, I can do it my way.  I can at least try to take advantage of her love of the princesses as an opportunity to bolster her love for herself.

You know, if I was really a badass, I would make my own fruit snacks.  How cool would that be?  Anyone have a recipe?

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What’s a princess without a prince? OR how to watch Disney on Ice

Media, Play Time, Pop Culture - Lynn Johnson - March 2, 2015

Yesterday was my first experience of Disney on Ice.  Whoa.  Have you been?  “The Squirrel” and I went with some good friends of ours, another 6 year old Go Girl!, her dad and baby sister.  Cuteness all around.  My favorite part of the whole show was when TinkerBell came out at the end and my daughter nearly worked herself into a fit.  She jumped to her feet and spread her arms out wide and screamed “TINKERBELL!!!  Over HERE!” at the top of her lungs as if that just might be the key to make her fly over and take us all with her on one of her incredible fairy adventures.

disiceCinderella 1 - Low Res

But that’s not the part I want to talk about.  I want to talk about the Princess sequence.  Now, for some reason, I was able to tolerate the incredibly aggressive marketing tactics, the dearth of performers of color, and the $12 beers, but, as a Go Girl!, I was jumping out of my skin during the Princess sequence.

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t identify as a Disney princess hater.  Little Mermaid is one of my favorite soundtracks…ever.  However, the ice show takes it to a whole other level when they create this scenario – Minnie Mouse wants nothing more than to be a beautiful princess with a prince on her arm.  The Fairy Godmother from Cinderella comes to her and introduces her to all of the famous princesses who skate with their princes as examples of what to strive for in life.  At one point, Fairy Godmother actually even says to Minnie “What’s a princess without a prince?”  Yikes.

At that point, I knew I had to do something.  I had to say something to these young Go Girls! to counteract that message.  But we were having fun.  I didn’t want to make it too preachy and awkward.  So, here’s what I said…

Me:  Hey girls!  Wasn’t it amazing how strong those princesses were?!?  They were doing amazing things on that ice!

Go Girl! #1: Ya!  The boys were strong too!  They lifted the girls up so high.

Me: You’re right.  Those boys were really strong.  But, those girls had to do all those spins and flips and so much amazing stuff with their bodies.  They had to use a lot of muscles to do all of that.

Go Girl! #2: Wow! How did that do that?

Me:  Well, they practiced a lot and worked really hard.

Then, the popcorn vendor came by and that was the end of that.

What do you think?  What would you have said in my situation?  What has worked for you in the past to counteract the power of princesses?

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