Sunday, March 18, 2012

Responsibility Chart

Abigail has a Responsibility Chart that we keep hanging in our pantry and she earns the magnets for it:

We don’t really use it for responsibilities, since I don't give her responsibilities. I am big on behaviour instead. So, instead of earning magnets for making her bed, cleaning her room, setting the dinner table, she gets them for listening, sharing, no whining, etc. This isn't a weekly thing - it seems to just come out whenever we need to focus on behaviour. When she has done her best and it is full of magnets, she gets a day out with a parent. Well, who am I kidding? She seems to get the day out whether she filled it or not ... two weekends ago it was a day out with me while Dad stayed home with Bryony.

I took her to see 'The Secret World of Arrietty'. She hardly ever gets to go to the cinema so this is a big treat. And I was excited to find this movie because it was loosely based on Mary Norton's 1952 novel 'The Borrowers'. Yes, you guessed it, a classically British children's book that I had loved growing up. I was excited to find another English 'thing' to share with Abigail.

We enjoyed it so much! I'm going to take a quick second to criticise it on one front only. And then we'll focus on the well-deserved praise. My only complaint is that a lot of the 'British-ness' of the book was lost in translation. The film was written, directed and produced by a Japanese animation team, and it showed. The artwork, while beautiful, was distinctly Eastern, from the old 'English' house with an architecturally curved roof, to the characters dress (see the shoes), and even in one scene the family eating dinner with chopsticks. Ha! I noticed this throughout, and it was a little odd.

But, as I said, let's move on to the praise. I'm sure you've heard recently about the criticism thrown at shows like 'Spongebob Squarepants" for what they call 'extreme-fantasy TV' and it's overall fast-paced craziness. The theory goes that this kind of TV viewing can ruin a child's 'executive function' - that is, the ability to pay attention, problem-solve and control their behaviour. I have been saying this for years! I think it is no coincidence that my child is wild, loud, confrontational and can't sit still after she just watched something 500mph in speech, colour and blasting loud music. I am always searching for something gentler, slower and more meaningful for my children to watch. I think TV can be a learning tool when it comes with a message they can both understand and then reflect on. I like to call it 'slow food'.

And, what do you know? 'The Secret World of Arrietty' was it! It was pretty to look at. Every scene just so pretty to look at. The Daily Telegraph explained it as 'ravishingly colourful and textured'. And guess what? That's all it needed. No sound track (literally, many scenes were silent), no jokes aimed at parents more than their kids, no 'extreme fantasy' stuff. Just a touching story told in beautiful animation and simple dialect. The Guardian review summed it up best for me: "a gentle and entrancing tale, deeper and richer than more instantly gratifying fare". This is one we will buy when it comes out! 

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