Robin Williams died on my son’s due date.
I loved this guy. I loved his work. I went through the stages of grief when I found out – starting with disbelief, of course. I was (and still am) so sad that depression took this very talented human being from us.
After Robin’s death, in watching all the memorials on the news and daytime TV, and in seeing all the clips strung together on Facebook, I started counting all of his movies that touched me, that I grew up with. It’s a lot. His movies were so emotional; I’ve long known that his were the ones I went to when I needed to tweak my mood – which usually meant inducing tears and reconfirming my faith in the human spirit.
In going through my movie collection, I realized I didn’t own one of my absolute favorite Robin Williams movies – Hook – so I bought it and ended up watching it soon after my son was born.
I absolutely adore the story of Peter Pan. There isn’t a more fabulous story that captures the sheer joy and adventure it is to be young and to remind us that we can always go back to Neverland in our hearts (second star to the right and straight on til morning) whenever we want.
In re-watching Hook, I was prepared to feel that joy and excitement that comes with the story, and I was also prepared to feel sad that the person I was watching who was once so full of life and youthful glee was now gone.
What I wasn’t prepared for was my new reaction to the story now that I am a parent.
Remember the scene where Captain Hook starts teaching Pan’s kids about how parents hate their children? He very eloquently describes how kids’ whining and demands (“He took my toy! She hit my bear! I want a potty! I want a cookie! I want to stay up! I want, I want, I want, me, me, me, me, mine, mine, mine, mine, now, now, now, now…”) drive their parents crazy. Maggie (fun fact – it was her character I played on the playground with my friends when this movie first came out) points out that her parents read to her, “because they love me very much!” And Hook retorts back that parents read to their children to shut them up.
In to end the lesson, Hook gave Maggie an F (to which she freaks out…probably why I was suited to play her character) and then declared that her parents were happier before she was born.
This scene struck a new chord, one that hadn’t been struck before.
Holy shit – Captain Hook was right.
There I was, hopelessly sleep deprived with a wee infant attached to my boob and tears running down my face because I got it – but not the it I was expecting to get. This movie was supposed to remind me how joyful life was! Instinctively I knew I wasn’t supposed to be listening to the words of this dark and sinister man, but for the first time in watching this film, my eyes were opened. The guy had a point. In my very short career as the parent of a newborn, I already knew I’d do things I previously said I’d never do if it meant my kid would sleep. I wished for my old life back on a daily basis. I fought with my husband about nothing and everything. Some days, I was kind of miserable.
I considered growing a beard and joining the crew of the Jolly Roger.
Thankfully, the movie continued and we came to the scene in the Lost Boys’ tree house where Peter was desperately trying to find his happy thought. He picked up his old teddy bear and had a flashback to a hospital room where his wife was handing him his brand new baby son, saying, “Peter, you’re a daddy!”
That was it. This is why I wanted to watch the movie in the first place. He was flying again, and so was I.
I was bedridden for the first 12 hours of Dylan’s life due to some minor complications, so when we were in the recovery room at the hospital, Brian started changing his first diapers and rocking and soothing and being a daddy. It was amazing for me to watch, and it had reminded me of that same hospital scene in Hook. Through tears in my eyes, I shared my thoughts with Brian and my heart was bursting.
Hook really got it right in more ways than I first realized. It fascinates me how quickly and profoundly popping a baby out of me has changed my perspective on the whole world, let alone this movie. Before, I had thought that the story was more about “always being a little boy and having fun,” and now I see this whole new layer about the love (“It’s the L-word, Captain!”) and struggle between parents and their children. Yes, it’s about learning how to stay young, but it’s also about learning how to grow up. And most importantly, it’s about finding (and keeping) that happy thought that keeps us all going.
Well, Dylan is our happy thought. Our poopy, screamy, cuddly little happy thought.
There are so many great lines to quote and parallels to make about this movie and life in general, but the best is at the very end, where I don’t feel like Robin Williams was really having to act much at all.
He said, “To live would be an awfully big adventure.”
Thanks for sharing your talent with all of us, Robin. I am so very glad that you’re not in pain anymore.