Friday, 24 July 2015

Inside Out - a review

Well, we've just got home from seeing Inside Out at the cinema. It's the second day of our summer holidays and it's peeing down with rain, so we've used some tickets that Dollop won in a competition and had an afternoon of 'feelings'.

At least that's what I'd hoped for. Mini isn't usually affected by film themes like some adopted (and not adopted) children are, but I can sometimes use them as talking points with him after.
I'd also seen headlines about how this particular movie was helping children with autism talk about feelings. Mini isn't autistic, but given the similarities between autism and attachment, I was hopeful that this could help him verbalise some of his feelings as he's always struggled to talk about his emotions, and can't often read us and our feelings.
And not only had the children seen trailers for Inside Out and thought it looked funny, so had the NC and I. So a whole host of reasons to go.

It started off well enough, with the birth of the main character Riley and the emotion 'Joy' appearing in her head, pressing a button and effectively kick-starting the child's feelings and memories (although I suspect that's nothing like what happens for our children). Soon enough Anger, Sadness, Fear and Disgust appear too and play appropriate parts in Riley's life, using the controls in 'Headquarters' to respond to situations. Memories are formed then stored and key moments help develop certain parts of the personality. It actually seems like a really good way to describe what happens in the brain, and it was portrayed really well visually, I'll definitely be referring back to it when talking with the children about how they feel, and how their memories work.

I don't want to give away too many spoilers, but after moving house there is a scene in the movie where Riley's dad has to suddenly stop family time and go to work, and there are lines about him 'leaving us/abandoning us' which came from out of the blue and struck me as something that could upset some children.
Moving on, the story develops so that Joy and Sadness end up away from Headquarters and down in the long-term memory banks with the core memories. Without these core memories stored in Headquarters, Riley's personality begins to change; it felt like pretty much most of the movie was about Joy and Sadness trying to return to Headquarters to restore order with them getting knocked back an awful lot. I felt sad a lot throughout this movie, Dollop clung to me for dear life as she also felt sad and worried, although I think quite a lot of the detail went over her head. Mini remained seemingly unaffected throughout the whole thing.

As well as the story of the emotions doing their thing inside Riley's head, you get to see her actions too. Part of which include her stealing a credit card and attempting to run away and return to the city that they moved away from. Although the feelings kick in and she stops, they are still pretty strong themes that some of our children would struggle with.

Sitting here afterwards, I realise that there was no laughter from the audience until near the end - and that was from the parents after seeing the big 'PUBERTY' button appear on the Headquarters dashboard. And I would imagine that's pretty unusual for a children's movie?

Mini's asked if we can buy it when it comes out on DVD and he's giving it an 8 out of 10. Though he can't back that up with why it scored so highly, he did tell me his favourite character was Anger.
Dollop isn't too bothered and scored it 6 out of 10. She says she felt really worried for Riley and she thought something bad was going to happen to Joy who was her favourite character. These fearful feelings seem to cloud any good feelings she had about the movie, and I must admit, despite a happy ending*, I feel the same way.

*Yes, it's a happy ending, although it's Sadness that saves the day and that might be a bit confusing for some.

Monday, 13 July 2015

A calmness is descending

The kids are at school. They break up for the Summer next Wednesday and I'm approaching the summer holidays - as always - with a mixture of fear and happiness. Will I be able to keep them occupied for a whole 6 weeks? How many memory making opportunities can we squeeze in?

But this year is the first year, despite now having Dollop at school too, that I've not worried about end of term and therefore the transition between one school class and another. Mini is absolutely fine and happy about moving up to the next class. He's happy with the amount of transition work that he's done. He's happily brought home his new writing journal and completed the homework of decorating it and writing the first page too (even though he hates handwriting projects).
Dollop too is happy to be moving up to her next class, with her best friends and her boyfriends (!) although she's a bit worried about how shouty the teacher will be and I'm a bit apprehensive about the increasing amounts of homework for both children.

Is this how 'normal' households live?

Last week we had the children's school reports. They were both amazing. We can see how far Dollop has come socially, and her reading and writing skills seem to get better every week. She enjoys reading and I hope we can maintain that interest over the summer with library trips. Her school report confirms all of that, and talks of a few traits that were a little unexpected but are positive, and some that were expected that we can support her with.

But Mini's was on another level. It was so so different to his previous reports and talked of a child that I don't know very well! It talks of his ability to lead in a group but with sensitivity and consideration to the other group members; it talks of his confidence; it talks of the outstanding effort he puts into music and art projects. It talks of a young man who is settled, happy and meeting all his targets. Wow! We couldn't be prouder of Mini, and we're very pleased with the school too. He's not taking the praise too well, but a little present of new goalkeeping gloves kept a smile on his face.

It's not all easy all of the time. My nan is back in hospital and Mini has been rather wobbly about that. We're taking him to see her at the weekend, but we couldn't consider taking the children to the hospital, Mini just wouldn't cope with the small space of a private room, the sounds and smells, the wires and tubes. He doesn't know nan very well, but is clearly worried about her.
Mini still has wobbles over homework, but that's been scarce recently, so we're still enjoying this calm and peaceful time and just being a family.

Well done Mini and Dollop - we are so proud of all the effort and hard work you put in at school and proud of the lovely people that you are xx