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August 2nd, 2009

gonna see another movie tonight.  at the cinema.  saw the new judd apatow seth rogan et al. on its opening night friday, at this movie theater in canton that one-ups even yer newer, "nicer" multiplexes.  big, rocking easy-chair seating.  cocktail bar (though i went dr. pepper).  the floor was inexcusably sticky, however.  fie on sticky floors at the cinema.

funny people is pretty good.  in the sea of penises and balls (jokes about them by bearers of them) there's a character-driven story of a serious adam sandler---such as he sometimes is in the movies, to quite an effect---and his struggles in relating to people.  the seth rogan character, while foibled, is a practitioner of detachment, i realized.  loving detachment.  he gets beyond even some really vile "acting out," if you can stand that term.

judd & co. are sure mired in gender.

of course they also snuck an ambiguously physiologically gendered (do we still say "intersex"?) teenager into a sitcom in the 1990s, and not as the butt of any joke, but as a real person.  so there's that.

= + = + =

"use your words" is, i'm sure you've noticed, a prompt from parents to kids in a fluster of emotion.  it often seems to be invoked when the emotion's resulting in some undesirable behavior (speaking of acting out).  i was in ikea the other day, finding myself particularly annoyed by crying babies and screaming toddlers---so much so that i'd twice dashed, to escape it, to the nearest semi-secret cut-through from the part of the winding pathway i was in to another section along the ribbon.  yet when i stood by some aprons* and chair cushions, contemplating the two orange potholders i eventually rejected, and suddenly yet another mother with disturbed progeny was just feet away, my annoyance was displaced.  it was all about that mother's invoking "use your words."  and it wasn't that the kid wasn't making loud piercing sounds (for long).  it was the coaching in identifying and naming emotion.

i grant you, in practice "use your words" seems to be a trick of distraction to quell the current outburst, as much as it is anything else.  and it seems to be a way of directing the kid to a structure of two options, in which the naming/awareness/calm is the help for the distress, as well as a way of imparting a sense of Mom's attention and engagement, which can kinda seal the deal as far as calming a child, without necessarily caving to the young one's perceived desire or tantrum-like insistence.  when it works, it can work impressively well.

but it's that other part that fascinates me:  the coaching in identifying and naming emotion.  you see it when they make suggestions along those lines, too, gently offering a kid a "sad" or an "angry" or a "frustrated," or when they utter reflections/validations of some feeling the child mentioned, or when they report their own feelings, in those really simple sentences, like i'm sad, too.  maybe even followed by just sitting with it, for a bit.

interpretation.  translation.  a specialized subset of language acquisition with a vital aspect that goes way beyond vocabulary.

"what's the matter?  what are you upset about?"

"[this thing happened].  [i didn't like it when so-and-so such-and-suched, or this phenomenon befell me, or the something is something]."

"sounds like you're feeling [maybe this].  are you feeling [this]?"

and then yeah, by gosh and by golly, the kid is feeling that, and there it is.  and it's okay.  and they've just had a conversation about it.

________
*i like aprons.
 
... lemme link you to Charlotte Cooper's post today on Susie Orbach's participation in the conference of ASDAH, the Association of Size Diversity and Health. Interesting stuff, deftly articulated.

And now out into another lovely, almost cool August day. What a summer it has been for mildly temperatured air.
 
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