The Split Second

I don’t know about where you live, but lately around here there seems to have been an increase in the number of child-related tragedies.

I won’t rehash them one by one.  They were depressing enough the first time around. Suffice it to say that some terrible, strange accidents have happened to some small children around the state.

Accidents aren’t really what this post is about, though.  What got me thinking was looking at and listening to some of the comments that people make about these tragic accidents.  Without fail, the parenting abilities of the parents involved with these accidents are always called into questions.  Sometimes people are downright cruel, saying that some people shouldn’t have children and that how idiots should be sterilized so they can’t reproduce.  You hear such mature, helpful advice as “hang them” and “arrest them for neglect.”

I have no doubt that some of the horrible things that happen to children are the result of bad parenting.  But then, these things aren’t really accidents, are they? What about the horrible things that happen that really are accidents? We are so quick to judge, so quick to pass sentence and shake our heads at these poor, foolish parents.

Haven’t we all been that foolish parent?

Nobody wants to admit it, but we have all had our less-than-stellar parenting moments.  The difference between me and the woman whose son died in a tragic accident is little more than pure luck.

Children are fast, and I don’t think any human on Earth can honestly say they are prepared for every possible danger scenario in the life of their child.  We try.  God knows we do.  We baby-proof and use car seats and door latches and we hover and wring our hands.  But sometimes stuff still happens, doesn’t it?

I know as the mother of two I’ve had some close calls.  One that stands out in my mind is the time my then two-year-old son found the switch that operated the automatic door we had so my sister could go in and out in her wheelchair.  The house was baby-proof.  But I noticed I didn’t hear my son, and when I went in search of him, I found him standing on the back porch looking through the door which had closed just as easily as it had opened.  He was so shocked that he had just stood there, and in reality, no more than a minute could have gone by, but what could have happened? What if, instead of stopping and looking back through the door, he had kept on trucking and went out to the road? Or down in the woods? Or, or, or, if, if, if.  I was lucky.  I grabbed him and mentally calculated the number of years that had been shaved off of my life, but that was it.  We were fine.

Another time, we were in DC seeing the sights.  We got on the elevator to go down to the Metro.  We were packed on there, and somehow I got shuffled behind my sister’s wheelchair.  My son was in front of her chair.  The door opened, and he stepped off.  For some reason, everyone else just sort of stood there.  The door started to slide shut, with me inside and my four-year-old son standing on the platform by himself.  I literally climbed over the back of my sister’s chair and hit the “door open” button.  Everyone shuffled off then, and I joined my child on the platform.  Yet another year or two off of the span of my life.  It could have gone down very differently, and been much worse.  Or, or, or, if, if, if.

So, what about you? Have you had those life-shortening, sphincter-tightening moments of parenthood? I know you have.  We all have. Go ahead, tell me about it.

I won’t judge.

 

 

 

Tear Jerkers (Sorry, Mr. Sparks)

I just watched a video which listed the biggest tear-jerker movies of all time.

I think movies based on Nicholas Sparks books made the list at least three times.  Maybe more.  I sort of lost interest about half way through.

We just can’t get enough of the sappy, drippy, romantic tragedies, can we? What is it? Maybe it’s the idea that love transcends tragedy, and exists even in spite of cancer and death and dementia.

Now, before any of you Sparks fans out there start planning my painful death, let me assure you, I think Mr. Sparks is a talented man. He knows how to tug on the heart strings.

But there are some of us (or at least me) who believe a real tear-jerker movie isn’t just sap from front to back and top to bottom.  It’s a movie that gets you.  It breaks your heart. And then someone gets stabbed in the eye with a sword.

Anyway, here are my nominations for the greatest tear-jerker movies of all time:

  • Last of the Mohicans. This  movie kills me.  Kills me.  It is a very violent movie at times, but it is also a wonderful story based on the book by James Fenimore Cooper.  The acting is top notch (we are talking about Daniel Day Lewis, after all) and there are true edge-of-your-seat moments.  It really hits the mark, though, because there are whole scenes with absolutely no dialogue. Guess what?  These are the scenes that are the most powerful and, yes, tear jerking.  Whole planets of emotion are shared between the characters with just eye contact, and of course the heart rending music in the background.
  • Cast Away. I bet you think I’m going to tell you I cried the most near the end, when Tom Hanks is getting ready to drive away and Helen Hunt comes running down the driveway in the rain (of course.) WRONG! Although that is a highly charged moment, the part of the movie that will crush you is when Tom Hanks loses his best friend.  That’s right–Wilson, the volleyball.  Wilson is tied onto the life raft, and he comes loose and starts drifting away before Tom realizes it, and then gets too far out of reach to be recovered.  Then we get to see Tom Hanks sobbing his heart out over a volleyball, and I sob right along with him.  Because it’s not really just Wilson he’s crying over, you know?  He’s crying because, well, everything. And that breaks your heart.
  • The Patriot. I can’t pinpoint one moment in this film, because it is brutal.  Let me just say, don’t get attached to too many characters in this film, because they drop like flies.  I will say the scene where Mel Gibson is leaving and his little girl runs after him and speaks to him for the first time in forever is over-the-top ugly-cry material.
  • Forrest Gump. You knew this one had to make the list, right?  Tom Hanks is brilliant, and this movie is all the proof needed to back up that statement.  How many times do I cry during this movie?  The Lord might know–I don’t.  Bubba dies, Lieutenant Dan has his “what am I gonna do now” moment, Momma dies, and let’s not forget when Forrest sees his son and wants to know if he is like him.  Then Jenny dies, and if you had any heart left, it gets destroyed by the whole “I miss you, Jenny” thing.
  • Braveheart.  I have never cried over any movie as  much as I cry over this one.  It would take a book to list all the tear-jerking scenes in this movie.  This movie uses the “no dialogue” technique, too.  When Murron is killed, and Mel Gibson leans over her right before they are going to bury her, he breathes in her scent like he did when she was still alive, and it’s almost too much to watch.  Then right before he dies, he sees Murron in the crowd walking toward him, and the music changes, and, and…..excuse me a minute, okay?

Okay, I’m better.  Sorry, but that one gets me every time.

So, what makes your list?  What movie rips out your heart?  And don’t worry if it is a Nicholas Sparks film.  I will only make fun of you a little.

 

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