One of Emma’s top five favorite IMAX movies is, Born to Be Wild about orphaned orangutans and elephants and the people who rescue and nurture them until they can go out on their own to live independently in the wild. It’s a beautiful film and during the watching of it, Emma did a running narrative, which was both amazing and insightful because the things she noticed and talked about were not necessarily the things I noticed. Her observations were all about identifying with the baby orphaned animals and not about the humans who have saved their lives. This is as it should be, it seems to me.
She was identifying with the small animals, whose lives are dependent upon the human adults to care for them, respect them, nurture them while they are still so vulnerable and young. I, however, identified with the adults who are feeding, caring for, giving bottles to, making comfortable sleeping areas for, while being careful to not “tame”, so they will one day be able to return to the wild. I was so relieved to see the human caretakers encouraging the babies to build their innate skills by taking them to places where they could strengthen and build their climbing abilities and offering them materials to make nests or giving them the opportunity to interact with older orphans who would soon be venturing out on their own.
It was impossible for me, as a parent, to view this movie and not see the connections to parenting. How we try hard to manage that balancing act of encouraging our children to do for themselves, only intervening when absolutely necessary, trying hard to not over identify, to honor and respect our children and not think of them as reflections of ourselves. Watch for their innate talents and foster and encourage them, join them in their interests instead of trying to foist our interests upon them. Respect them enough to allow them to make mistakes, encourage them to dare to dream big, and give them the opportunity to flourish without criticism, but with love and guidance. In the end, we all want that from each other. We all want to feel loved and to love. We all want to be seen and heard. We all want to feel we are approved of. We need that. Children, adults, living beings, we all want to feel we matter.