Monday, 29 August 2011

Children, Disney and self-loathing

My son has a problem.

Well, he has a big one as I’m his sole parent, but it’s another issue I’m going to type about.

He can be very self-depreciative. Claiming to be rubbish at things, giving up on them, and yesterday he even used the cliché: “I’ve let the side down.”

I’ve decided to fix this.

You might not think it, but it’s an issue I dealt with too through childhood, and if I’m being honest (and using clichés) it’s only a problem that I’ve learnt to deal with effectively very recently.

So it took me over 30 years to put a control on my self-loathing, I’m hoping to help my boy get a grasp on his much sooner.

Observers may say it’s ridiculous for him to feel this way, after all he is clearly ace, and any feelings of inferiority are daft.

But if you feel that way, you feel that way.

Words and encouragement are great, and I am sure they help, constant reminders that he is awesome, and awesome is what he makes it, do their bit, but it seems with a six-year-old practical examples may be more useful.

That’s why I’m delighted that Disney inadvertently gave me one recently (probably not inadvertently).

I’m not going to ruin it for you, but in Cars 2 that character taking centre stage, Mater, is a person with similar issues.

Writing himself off, claiming to be stupid, incapable. That sort of shit.

However, this turns out to be complete nonsense, and he discovers that fact, so despite constantly being told how awesome he is, he finally also realises it for himself.

Now, on a a recent car journey Max – my son – asked me who was my favourite character from the film, and then – more crucially – we pondered (together I add) who we were most like.

(Let me know you’re favourite Cars character for a chance to win a Cars 2 PS3 video game.)

I said my favourite character was Mater, but that I am most like Lightening McQueen, or ‘Stickers’ as he’s affectionately nicknamed. And I decided I was most like Stickers because I can be flash, competitive, but as my late wife used to say, underneath it all, I make the right decisions and am loyal to my friends.

Then we got onto Max, and we concluded he was most like Mater, and not just because he’s a comparable rust bucket that cares little for appearance, but mostly because he is brilliant without really realising it, or believing it.

And as look would have it, McQueen and Mater are best mates too.

So we had a lot of enjoyable comparisons to make, and I now have my ‘go to’ nickname for my boy when he’s doubting himself a little.

My little Mate(r).