On Saturday afternoon, Brooke went to a classmate’s birthday party. I decided to take Katie to a movie while Luau took Brooke to the party.
Wait – you like how I made that sound all casual? Like, “Oh, sure here’s what I’ll do.” Like I didn’t agonize over it and twist myself into a knot trying to decide if it was better to have quality time with Katie or to get to know some of Brooke’s classmates’ parents at the party? Anyway, back to casual.
Katie and I stuffed ourselves silly with popcorn and blue raspberry slush as we made a mid-day date of Madagascar 2. The movie was predictably cute. We cuddled and slurped and laughed and (I) shushed (her) throughout.
There were a couple of different plot lines in the movie, but one that really got me. Like GOT ME as in hit me in the chest and said, “Hey, you. Yeah, you, with that ridiculously huge mouthful of popcorn. Are you paying attention? An animated lion is telling you something that you need to hear!” Yes, I have those moments. Often.
The Readers Digest version of the story is that the young lion, Alex, has to prove himself to his father upon returning to his pride.
Those of you who saw the first movie might recall that Alex was separated from his family as a cub. He was subsequently raised in the Central Park Zoo in Manhattan. He was dubbed ’The King of New York” by the adoring crowds that gathered at the zoo to see him dance. In New York, he was beloved and revered for his incredible dancing.
Back in Africa, his talents mean nothing to his father. He can find no value in what he sees only as his son’s odd, impractical and unlionine behavior.
I’ll do my best not to ruin the story for you (as though you’d go see Madagascar 2 for the suspense), but at one point, father and son find themselves in front of an angry and frightened mob of tourists who are lost on safari in their animal preserve. To fend off the crowd, the father growls and roars. The crowd gets angrier and more menacing. His offense as defense method is failing miserably. The people raise their weapons and take aim.
Alex slowly begins to do what he does best – he dances. As he does, the crowd quiets. They watch, mesmerized as he builds momentum.
The dad joins him, awkwardly trying to follow his son’s lead. He looks (and obviously feels) absurd.
“Dad, what are you doing?” Alex asks.
“Dancing, I think.”
“Don’t think, Dad. Dance!”
The father lets loose and, grinning like fools, they dance. Together.
A New Yorker recognizes Alex’s moves. “Hey that’s Alex! I’d know that lion anywhere!” The cheers are deafening.
“That’s my boy!” beams the dad, dancing away. “The king of New York!”
Our children’s talents may not always be what the pride (or our pride) expects or demands. The value of their particular skills may not seem obvious at first.
But if we let ourselves stop thinking and we join them in the dance, we may just see what we’re all meant to do. The crowd may see it too. And even better, we may all just have some fun.