|Joseph: "Am I a good guy or a bad guy?"
My three year old son, Joseph, gave me a kiss the other morning and said, "I'm not a bad guy, right, Mommy?" His question surprised me. "Of course you're not," I told him, "You're a good guy." Joseph, who loves superheroes so much that he owns both a Spiderman and a Superman costume, takes these matters seriously. In the car a bit later, I realized where his question had come from, though. The night before, this "good guy" had gotten angry (maybe rightfully so) at his sister and bitten her (not rightfully so). In her anger, she yelled, "No! You're bad!"
We had a little talk with Joseph's sister that night about the difference between doing something bad and being bad, and the need to differentiate between the two when talking to her three-year-old brother, but the incident, along with Joseph's question the next morning, got me thinking again about the recently released film The Box Trolls, which I saw with the girls last weekend, and which plays with this question as well."Who am I?" Eggs, the main character, an orphaned boy raised by underground cave-dwelling trash collectors, asks at one point. The one true bad guy in the movie, Archibald Snatcher, never asks himself this question, of course, but he does take great pains to disguise himself so that others don't know who he is. What was most interesting to me, though, and most similar to Joseph's incident with his sister, was that the men who helped Archibald Snatcher in the movie did so because they thought they were doing, and being, good. "We are the good guys, right?" they ask at one point.
|The Box Trolls shows the importance of LISTENING to those children
who find the courage to tell their own stories.
"Who am I?" is a question we all need to ask ourselves, and adoptees know that the search for the answer to that question is bit more labyrinthian for them (because some of the most basic answers to that question are legally blocked by those claiming to be "good"). "Am I a good guy or a bad guy?" is another question. The answer can change, depending on what we do.
In the movie, when Eggs bravely announces the truth of his own experience to the entire town we, the viewers, know that this declaration should be revolutionary, that it should result in great, dramatic change, but the town doesn't listen at all. They don't do anything! Archibald Snatcher, of course, ramps up his actions to keep his dirty scheme going. He can't do it alone, however. He needs people to go along with him, to believe his lies. Will they? Will you? Adult adoptees have bravely spoken, and are speaking, about their lives. The results should be revolutionary. Whether or not they are depends a lot on whether or not we are good guys or bad. I think we can be good.