Thursday, November 7, 2013

An Orphan with Red Curls, and Time with My Girl.

I love the movie Annie. It was one of my favorites as a kid, right up there with The Wizard of Oz. Our copy was a VHS tape, recorded off the TV. I even remember some of the commercials. The other day when I was doing my daily Target run, I came across Annie in the $4.75 movie section. I was really excited because I hadn't seen it in years, and really wanted to share it with K.

Last spring K and I went to an autism friendly performance of Annie, but there's really nothing like the movie. I envisioned the two of us snuggled up on the couch, big bowl of popcorn perched precariously on her legs, singing along to the songs together.

Well, OK, I would do the singing, and she would ask me not to, but you get the point.

I'm not new here. I know how at home movies go with K. She actually does much better in the theater. Less distractions. Dark, quiet, room (sensory-friendly films are not sensory-friendly to K, because she needs quiet.) At home she sometimes watches a movie, and sometimes wanders around, occasionally coming back to it. She is a snuggler, but only for a certain amount of time before she needs out. Still, I couldn't help but imagine some Hallmark-like moment of sharing a favorite movie with my girl.

It started out like I imagined. Sorta. I made a bowl of popcorn, which ended up mostly on the cushions and floor. I sat on the couch, smushed into a corner, while K stretched out at some random angle. But, we were together, and she was a willing participant!

What I soon realized is that the DVD version of Annie is a lot longer than the "taped from television" version I grew up watching. In the first half of the movie, there were several songs I never even knew existed. And the first half of the movie probably lasted as long as the whole "edited for time allotted" version. Once K's popcorn was gone (and the kernels promptly spilled everywhere, because when does that not happen), she got squirmy. I could tell the movie wasn't holding her attention as it had held mine all those years ago. Eventually, after rolling onto the floor, she looked up at me and said she wanted to go upstairs. I know better than to force anything, so off she went.

I get stuck in this trap, often. Even though I've been around the block and back again, I seem to forget reality. I don't even think about it in the context of wanting something different, I just think about it in the context of how I was as a little girl, and projecting that on K. Autistic or not, it doesn't mean she will grow up the same way I did, or love the same things I did. She's her own person, and maybe Annie was just plain old boring to her.

What I love is K wanted to watch Annie with me. She got home from school and the first thing out of her mouth was a reminder that we had plans to watch it together. She happily sat down on the couch, and cued up the DVD player. We spent time bonding in our unique way.

K not making it through the whole movie doesn't take away from the fact that I really did get what I wanted in the end. I got to share a favorite movie with my daughter, snuggled on the couch together in a "K sorta way", and I did get to sing along while K gave me the eye. No, we didn't make it through the 12(?) hours of unedited Annie, but that doesn't matter. What matters is that we had that shared experience. Instead of getting upset that my almost 10 year old can't sit through a video, I immersed myself in the beauty that is spending time with my girl. Isn't that all that matters? Not how things happen, but that they happen. We got to spend time in each other's worlds, and that's better than any imagined Hallmark moment, any day of the week.


  1. We too have come to realize that our sons childhood is different from ours. But like you, we enjoy snuggling on the couch, even if its only for a couple minutes. Because kids grow up so fast, that in a few short years, our child will be a teenager. Gasp!