Friday, October 23, 2009

Sleeping in Piles and Growing Up

I’ve become obsessed with a line from the Where the Wild Things Are movie and I can’t stop saying it in my head. It was a little after Max had arrived to the island; he and the wild things had been running around trashing the place and having a great time and then they stop and talk about all the fun stuff they’ll do and Max adds, “And we’ll all sleep together in a real pile!” And they do. And Max is happy.

This sentence, this sentiment really struck a chord with me.

I think the movie did an amazing job of echoing the sadness of growing up. There is terror in getting older—terror in family dynamics changing, friends changing, self changing. I can distinctly remember times in my own childhood when even just a minor shift in how things were would make me long for a way to freeze time. I wanted to be able to rewind life so that I could unravel what was becoming increasingly complex. There were many small moments in the film that seemed to shine a ray of light on those terrors, but for me nothing seemed to illuminate them as fully as the phrase: “And we’ll all sleep together in a real pile.”

Maybe if you had to pin down a formative moment of sadness in childhood, it might come when you get too big to lie/sleep on your parent. At some point it becomes either inappropriate or just plain uncomfortable and the one feeling of ultimate security is no longer available to you. That physical sense of disconnectedness changes you inside.

Tonight on the couch, my daughter was draped over me for so long that my legs fell totally asleep. I consciously felt my limbs go from tingles to pins-and-needles to complete numbness. I just rolled with it. I didn’t want to move her, didn’t want her to feel responsible for the growth that will, not long from now, make it impossible for her to lie in a pile on me.

Disconnection happens on many levels, but I think we feel it first on the physical.

19 comments:

Steve Brezenoff said...

This is a very sweet post, but I have to admit that when I saw "piles" in the title of this post, I thought it was going to be about something else entirely.

Irene Latham said...

This is interesting, Christy, because I've never thought of growing up in terms of terror. I was always so eager to grow up. But. I do remember that moment when it didn't seem right for me to sit on my papa's lap. And I have said more than once to other parents how the difficult part with having teenaged boys is not what I expected at all, but the fact of missing their phyical presence. I make a point to touch them everyday, but oh, how sweet the days when they could leap into my arms!

Anonymous said...

Yesterday Juliet was talking about freezing time! Did she get it from that movie? I asked her what age she would like to freeze, and she answered 40! That answer blew me away. I wonder just what was going on in her head. She is a very complex child. I relish my time with those kids. Thanks.
Mom

Paul Äertker said...

Sweet post, Christy. My son is asleep in my bed right now, but I thought piles were hemorrhoids?

Kimberly Derting said...

I got all teary when I read this (after, like Paul and Steve, I get past the title confusion!). I've already got two that are too old for real snuggling and as my youngest gets older I feel *myself* clinging to those moments because I know how quickly they pass.

Thankfully, my kids are spaced so far apart the older ones will be making me some grandkids before I know it! ;) Can you imagine? Me, a grandma??? (I am 90, after all!)

Jennie Englund said...

Christy, that post was really lovely. I feel your pain, I do.

And I LOVE the comment you posted on my blog. "Leverage!" Hilarious. (And great idea).

Christy Raedeke said...

Okay, hope I cleared up the title - we're talking about sleeping in a heap, not about bleeding hemorrhoids!

Heidi Willis said...

This made me tear up! I don't think I got that feeling of loneliness and sadness from the book - more a rebellion - but I get that sense from the movie, and I think it adds such a deep level.

I remember watching something about how refugee boys that end up in the US stay in the same apartment - sleep in the same room all piled on the floor, because that is how they had to survive escaping their countries. There is a security and safety being so close.

Even my kids, I think, feel that. At 11 and 9 my son and daughter still sleep in the same room in bunkbeds. I keep thinking it will change soon, but neither wants to be alone to go to sleep. It's not a fear thing - it's a comfort thing.

Wow, I'm rambling. This hit a chord in me! Very nicely said!

Marijke said...

I was a Dutch army brat and lived in a Japanese concentration camp, moved from one country to another and back and never really had a "home town", but always wished I did, especially after I moved to the US and everybody always talked about their home town. I suppose that that would mean safety and security to me.

Kelly Hudgins said...

beautiful

storyqueen said...

Bittersweet post. Really nice.

PJ Hoover said...

Very touching post! I grab every minute I can snuggling with my kids. I know it won't last forever.

Cathy Gersich said...

I don't remember snuggling as a child. How do people have memories that go back so far? I hope Juju can remember like you apparently have. Seems like a valuable memory to have in your bank.

Shelli said...

my 5 year old is a snuggle bug - always on my lap. thanks for the reminder that I really dont want this to change.

Katie said...

This is such a lovely post Christy. And I admire you for not rolling her off you when you lost all feeling in your legs :-)

Good Mom!

And I have been dying to know if that movie was any good. Is it sad overall, though?

Little Ms J said...

This is so sweet. I have not one smarty pants thing to say. I can't wait to see the movie!

Debbie R said...

My daughters are 11 and 9 and we make dates where they get to sleep in my bed with me. We get under the covers, snuggle up and watch a movie, then all fall asleep together. My favorite times with them. Will be so sad when they don't want to do that anymore.

Anonymous said...

Now I feel especially bad about not letting Jackson crawl in bed w/ us at 4:00am this morning. He is toooo big. That said, w/ three boys we are always about the pile. All the time. They are piled on me. Piled on each other. That was one of my favorite parts of that ver sad movie.
Christy - and you know my whole life is about piles.
Tonya

Hardygirl said...

Ha! Your reputation for posting random gross things has twisted our minds to think that way!!

I wasn't afraid to grow up when I was little--I couldn't wait! But, I feel all these emotions with my girls--who sometimes do sleep in piles . . . and then I cry because it's so sweet.

I've got to see this movie, but I know I'll be a weepy mess on the floor.

sf