Walking is Hard

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When I was a child it was important to my parents that my brother and I never took ourselves – or life in general – too seriously.
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My folks were supportive when we needed it, and yet managed to be sure that a large ego was never too highly developed. They were successful with me, at least. The same is debatable in regards to my brother. My father was a bit sharper on this lesson than my mother. Never missing an opportunity to accentuate this policy to my brother and me, our training with him began early. My mother was more…stern. Not in a bad way; being married to my father meant that she was technically raising three children, not merely the two that popped out of her womb. Dad would prefer to refer to his antics as being more fun than strict. I have still yet to truly decipher his exact definition of “fun”.
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For example, here’s a picture of my dad when we came across a fountain on the day of my brother’s college graduation ceremony.
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Okay, okay. My folks saw this post and were none too pleased I posted the above unedited pic of my Dad, causing me to have to photoshop it. They’re going to be staying with me soon and I don’t want them to touch all my stuff while I’m not looking out of revenge.
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Instead, here’s a picture of my mother and brother reacting to what their lives had become.
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I, of course, was taking the pictures.
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This isn’t the point. The point is how my parents went about their life lessons. My mother taught us the hard way “This occurred because this happened,” or, more frequently “You’re in pain now because you didn’t do this.” She explained and then consoled, rather than just trying to make a kid feel better. My father hurts when my brother and I hurt, and wants to make it better. My mother sympathizes with us, but she’s more direct on making sure we know what to do to get out of a pickle, that we’re proactive about it.
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Neither of my parents were too shy about allowing us to watch movies; they were confident they could train us on right and wrong, fake violence and unnecessary real anger. Danger and safety, that sort of thing. That being said, I do distinctly remember a time when my mother was quite angry at my dad for allowing me to watch Predator at the age of seven. That wasreal anger, though I distinctly understood that the movie was fake. And awesome. I was fine. And I got ice cream for breakfast!
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Photo Credit Collider
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The NeverEnding Story movie hit theaters in 1984. The first time I remember seeing it was on a grainy VHS when I was four. My brother was seven at the time. I liked the snail racer seen in the very beginning. I still do. We were our parents’ children. We were out-going and fun and emotional and strong. But we were still kids. I cried a lot as a kid.
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The NeverEnding Storyenthralled Matt and me. We didn’t care much for the princess or her weirdo illness, but we loved the Rock Biter and the Night Hob who flew around on a bat. Falcor was the big, flying white dog we’d never have. And we loved Atreyu, believed in him, and felt for him. Atreyu has it rough in the film. His life is dependent on the actions of a bullied runt named Bastian, the fate of not just a princess, but his entire world is left balancing on his prepubescent shoulders. And if that isn’t bad enough, his horse, R-Tex, dies.
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I remember this scene very well, even the music. There’s Atreyu in the Swamp of Sadness. You’re not supposed to allow the sadness to seep into you. It will kill you. But eventually R-Tex just can’t take it any more. And he begins to sink. My brother and I were inches from the screen, big fat tears pouring down our faces.
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Photo Credit Smother Goose
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“Don’t give up R-Tex!”
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It was apparently all too real for my father, who decided to step in and teach us a lesson about taking things – even as a four year old – too seriously.
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“Kids…do you know why Atreyu is crying?” My dad asked, sitting next to my mom on the couch.
“Buh-be-Cause his horse died?” I asked feeble through snot and tears.
“No, stupid! Because now he’s all alone!” Barked my brother through his own hiccups of sadness.
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“…No…” said my father. “Atreyu is crying because now he has to walk.”
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It took a moment – but just a moment – for my brother and I to burst out laughing. Even at 4 I understood Dad was full of shit.
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And that’s how my parents shaped my brother and I into the ‘people’ we are today.
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