Yesterday, Little Man found a movie on Netflix — The Tigger Movie — that I thought would be perfect and not triggering. Only, it turns out, The Tigger Movie is all about Tigger not having any family. He waits and waits for his family the entire movie, only to be completely disappointed in the end. He finds out that he’s the only Tigger in all of existence, and that no one is writing to him. Yes, I realize that the true ending is that Tigger realizes he had a family all along, but LM could not see this ending. He saw the sad, bleak despair of Tigger, and rewinded. Again. And again. I cut him off, but, sadly, the Husband did not know to do so when LM started this pattern again tonight.
As you can imagine, the rest of the night was disastrous.
This is one of the unfortunate things about childhood trauma. Triggers pop up continuously, and childhood movies and cartoons are really just fantastic at triggering my child. Do you know how many childhood movies have some bitchy or dead parent? Do you know how many characters lose family members, often towards the beginning? We’ve ruled out so many films — Bambi, The Lion King, & Dumbo, clearly, but also The Fox & The Hound, Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Jungle Book, Mary Poppins (oh my gosh, when Mary leaves — seriously, the worst), and so many more. Some are only tangentially triggering and snuck up on us with a loud scream and a punch. Milo & Otis? I so thought that was going to be well-loved, until the separation of the two just became far too much for LM, and he fell apart at the seams.
What do you do? We avoid. We avoid what we can, because there’s enough triggering things out there that we can’t avoid. We watch Curious George, Dora, and only certain episodes of Wild Kratts. Some documentaries, especially Jeff Corwin, go over well. Superhero shows — a big no. Family movie nights have dwindled down to the same 4-5 Disney straight-to-DVD sequels. We avoid because he’s not ready yet. His brain’s not there. It can’t adjust and accommodate new information. It hasn’t even accommodated the information that he is not alone. It doesn’t know that he has a family. It doesn’t know that he is safe and loved. It really, really doesn’t. So how can it possibly know that Tigger and he are separate entities? How can it know that Tigger, too, will be safe and loved?
I don’t know how long we’ll avoid. I don’t feel like, in this case, we’re missing much, though there are a few Disney movies I would love to share with him one day (Disney-loving freak right here!). And I do miss pizza & a movie night, a family tradition that I’ve sought since before kids actually arrived. So, in the meantime, I’ll take all the feel-good, no-one-gets-lost, happy-always film and television recommendations that you can make — though I haven’t yet gotten sick of Curious George (talk about one rocking’ show!)