What every Moving Mom needs to know about Disney’s new movie “Inside Out”

Brace yourselves ladies: The movie isn’t just about emotions.  It’s about a happy-go-lucky little girl whose family moves from Minnesota to San Francisco and as a result, her cheery disposition takes a nose dive. I thought I was taking my kids to a light-hearted cartoon about feelings, but instead I was blindsided by a storyline that hit a little too close to home.

I sat in the theater with my two kids – ages 2 and 4 – and cringed.  I kept looking over at my girlfriend and her daughter because their family relocates as often as ours. She shot me a glance that said “yikes!”

Spoiler alert: The little girl in the movie, Riley, runs away from her new home to head back to Minnesota after a rough first day at a new school and a disappointing tryout for her favorite sport.  I wanted to scream at the screen, “Don’t put ideas in my kids’ heads! I don’t need them thinking they can run away back to our old house the next time we move!”

My little ones, on the other hand, were glued to the film and laughed at all the silly situations. They were invested in the characters and when the movie was over, they said they loved it. But I went home with a knot in my stomach.

My friends all wanted to know what I thought of the movie because it was getting a lot of buzz. I couldn’t lie – I didn’t like it. I felt betrayed by Disney for the first time in my life.

Bitter, party of one, please.

But in the weeks since our theater experience, my perspective and opinion has changed.

My preschooler started expressing herself in new ways.

One night, when she was really upset about something, she stormed up to her room, flopped down on her bed and sobbed in frustration. I told her to talk to me about what she was experiencing and her response shocked me.

“Mommy, Anger is in my brain,” she said, exasperated.

Whoa. Didn’t see that coming.

So we talked about how “Inside Out” taught us that it’s important to have a variety of emotions because they all help to make up our personalities. But I explained that life is a lot more fun when Joy is running the show and encouraged her to take deep breaths.

We discussed her frustrations and when she calmed down a little she looked up and said, “Mommy, Anger is in my brain but do you know what’s in my heart?”

My chest swelled as all of the adorable possibilities ran through my brain: Love? Joy? God?

Nope. All wrong.

“Disgust. She’s funny,” my little girl giggled. “And I keep Fear on this shoulder and Joy on this shoulder. Ooooh, and I like Sadness too.”

Leave it to a 4-year-old to teach Mommy a sophisticated takeaway from the movie:  it equips kids with a set of tools to understand and discuss what they’re feeling inside.  It arms them with language that adults can understand and validates emotions that can be overwhelming and confusing.

And even though the subject matter was alarming to me at first, I know now that I was letting Fear and Anger cloud my judgement of the movie.

In retrospect, I think it was a cute movie with valuable lessons to be learned. In fact, it is perfect for Moving Moms and their kids – as long as you’re prepared for some potentially heavy conversations afterward!

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