Last year the kids and I studied Africa and, in particular, South Africa. Trying to explain apartheid to a second and third grader is not the easiest thing I have ever done. In fact, squeezing a small human out of a ten centimeter opening was probably easier and less painful.
To help them understand the magnitude of the entire situation with its hatred, fear, courage, and nobility of spirit, we watched Invictus. And to be completely honest it gave me a chance to watch Matt Damon in action, so I classify my decision as a win-win situation.
My son loved it from the first time he viewed it (hello, it has a sport played with a ball in it.) My oldest daughter did not care for it right away, but it eventually grew on her as she watched it the third, fourth, and fifth time. (Did I mention my son really, REALLY liked it?)
However, I was not really sure how much of this thought provoking movie they really understood. Sure, they know that judging people on the color of their skin was wrong, but did they pick up on the subtler nuances of the film? Did they really understand the courage it takes to bring about change? Did they grasp the idea that a leader must lead by example? Did they understand that no one can make you be something you do not want to be?
I still don’t know the depth of my children’s understanding of this film, like so much of child rearing I am going to have to wait to see the final results. However, I feel that they grasped at least something more after watching them this morning.
Let me describe the scene: it’s Saturday morning and the cartoons are playing. The couch is filled with pillows and blankets and somewhere in that sea of coziness there is the almighty t.v. remote. Picture two children, intent upon wielding the power of that remote as they frantically search under quilts and bowls of dry cereal for it. The girl emerges victorious, holding on to the coveted t.v. device. The boy is unable to declare her the winner and attempts to wrangle it from her grasp. My daughter shouts out, “You can’t make me give it up! I am the master of my fate! I am the captain of my soul!”
Then picture me laughing at the childish chaos, but a little proud that something I tried to teach them got through.