I knew I would have to write about Where the Wild Things Are. How could I not?
From the earliest hummings of a this Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Thing Are movie coming to fruition, every ounce of my soul has rejected the reality that I now face. I haven’t wanted to hear about this movie. I haven’t wanted to think about it. I haven’t wanted to face it. I don’t want it to exist. I don’t care that it looks really good. I don’t care that even Maurice Sendak himself declares his approval. I don’t care that it’s suppose to be “different” and “not the book”. I just do not care.
This movie, this movie made of THIS children’s book, is not something THIS birthmother thinks she has the strength to handle at all.
I resent hearing the buzz.
I don’t think I can actually sit and watch that movie unless I am alone in my bed and perhaps in a straight jacket with a bottle of scotch and a case of tissues.
And what’s more it seems like EVERYONE is talking about it and I can’t even handle that.
I mean, I come across it on the internet and, it’s a unconscious response, I shudder and recoil. I cry out, sometimes like I am in pain and the timing, well, the timing could just not be any more un-perfect for me. It might be better for me in the Spring, maybe almost bearable, but with an October 16th release date, this movie hype will be in full swing right when we hit November and Max’s 22nd birthday.
This movie is making me feel like a neurotic, high strung, mess.
The other day at the office, I had to, probably more violently and less calmly than I would have liked, explained to the poor 25 year old geek man that I train why we shall not be discuss THIS movie in the office least we want me to become a blubbering puddle of crying jello. This evening, my own dear husband, had trouble understanding why I would much rather him turn the TV channel when the commercial comes on.
“It’s supposed to be really good,” he says, ‘What’s your problem with this movie?”
Now, I have been known to be weird about certain movies especially if they have lots of hype. It’s like if too many people tell me that I WILL like a movie, then I don’t want to deal. It’s obnoxious, I’m sure, and sometimes a bit off putting. I mean, I decided that I didn’t ever want to see E.T. because I didn’t like the marketing of Reese’s pieces that went along with it.. and I didn’t. Not for almost 20 years. I just refused to watch the damn movie. My stupid ex-fiancé made me watch it once and I am still mad at him for it. I still hate E.T.
But it’s not just me digging in me heals and being stubborn about this movie.
I am afraid of this movie and what it could do to me.
How insane is that? I fear a MOVIE.
But I do. Enough of you know (how could you not, just look at the blog) that…
My Son Max was Name after the main Character in Where the Wild Things Are
Three days after his birth, if was for Where the Wild Things Are that I walked the mall in with swollen breasts and legs still sore from birth. Along with the book, I bought the medium sized Max stuffed doll so he would always have himself and that night I carefully wrote a message to my newborn, already gone from my life, son, a message that I hoped could convey everything. It was the very next day, with these two gifts and a few pictures of myself, that I sighed my rights away. Hence, forever, since Max’ was born and then relinquished to adoption, the book has had a very special place in my heart.
Of course, I remember my own tattered copy from when I was a child.
Of course, Maurice Sendak was one of my most favored artists and authors and inspiration to my own young artist self. In fact, once of the earliest coffee table books I ever bought when young and poor was the eighty dollar Maurice Sendak coffee table book. I bought it to impress a guy I liked, then I borrowed it back, and it sits on the chair next to me this minute. Mine forever now.
So I love it before.. but oh, the emotional connection after.
After I had given birth at 19 and relinquished my son Max to adoption, I gave up being an “artist” since that seemed to have been a bad choice and went into early childhood education instead. And so, after a few years, I found myself, a mother pretending to not be a mother, teaching nursery school to children just about the same age as my own child. Call it some form of self induced torture, but I always was the one to read Where the Wild Are to my children. I knew it by heart and could recite it word for word and so, they got to see all the pictures. My goal, was to be able to read through it without crying. I failed that.
After Garin was born, he too, got a copy of the book and a Max doll for that was the secret legacy of his older brother and all that I could share. And to Garin, I always tried to recite the book without crying and failed.
Poor Garin, when he was 4, I basically insisted that he WOULD be Max for Halloween and I constructed the most perfect Wolf Suit for him and forced him into it. Looking back, it feels pretty sick, but it’s still true, so there it is. I still have the suit. I have spared the other children the duty of wearing their lost brother’s skin.
It is the same tattered book of Garin’s that we read to Scarlett and Tristan and still, I do not ever look at the words. I put the book away a few years ago for some reason. I think I told myself that they were too hard on books and they were coloring on pages and ripping off covers. I think too, I felt too exposed since they knew now that it was “their brother’s Book” .
Tonight, after not seeing the book in years, I walked to the store and the words flowed quickly out of my head. I cannot forget it’s cadence. I cannot strike out the rhythm. And by time I got to the store, I had tears in my eyes.
So I sat down to right this and as an example, I typed out the story, word for word.. my one mistake.. the forest grew three times.. I wrote out two. Not bad.
So yeah, I have “issues” with this book.
I wish I had copied somewhere WHAT I had written on the copy I left with Max. I don’t even know if he ever had the book in his possession or if it stayed locked away with other bits of me. I know, that at the time of his birth, I read the story so differently. At that time, in my head, I was the Wild Things with nothing to offer him but terrible roars and wild rumpuses. I know I wrote out “Oh no please don’t go, we’ll eat you up we love you so!” and it was me crying and begging inside for him to stay, but he had to go home. He had to go to his parents. And his strength and resolve in saying NO and leaving the Wild Things was good in my eyes.
Oh, it’s so different now. Maybe I knew it then, but oh, I was so wrong.
If we flip it….
If I take my role as Max’s mother.. then *I * call him a Wild Thing and send him off to bed without his supper.
The forest grew and grew and grew with wild and crazy chaos and vines just as my belly grew and grew and grew wild and crazy with chaos and life.
But Max went away in a private *(adoption) boat all alone.. through time and years to Where the Wild Things Are. I call him a Wild Thing, not Max, and send him away alone to the Wild Things denying him the right to be who he is. They love him and make him King and gave him everything any child could want. He charms them and stays there, but is lonely and the only one of his kind, still in his wolf suit. A boy pretending to be a Wolf among others who are also different. He does not fit in and longs for far away across the world where someone loves him best of all.
And so he travels, back, through time ( though none of us can) right to where he should have been all along and everything is as it should be and still waiting for him.
Can we see the adoption symbolism in Where the Wild Things Are?
I mean, it’s hitting me on the head like a crowbar! I know that it’s not the intended symbolism of the story. Non-adoption obsessed scholars talk about how it is a book about children and fantasy and understanding anger and rage towards one’s mother when she enforces the rules. But heck, rage against one’s mother? Yeah, that fit’s too. Fantasy worlds and adoption? Yup.. see the pattern? A misunderstood and rebellious Max?
And so WHAT if Spike Jonze’s version of Where the Wild Things Are is completely different, though reading the movie hype, as I am forcing myself to do, it sounds just about dead on! It’s still going to be my emotional fantasy version of my relinquished son parading around all over.. well with this hype….EVERYTHING!
I mean, I know the whole world does revolve around ME, but dammit!, why THIS book. You know how hard it is trying to explain to normal, non-adoption people, that you have such an insanely deep emotional hold on a book, that the movie version of it makes you bug out. I’m coming across a crazy lady. Bad enough not everyone has the ability to empathize or even remotely get that I get all weirdly in November and it’s not all in my head. “Normal” people say things like “Why let it get to you?” and “Stop obsession on it.” as if, this too, is my fault for spreading my legs. It’s my fault I am sad about losing my child and remembering it all.
So now, between the coming of my season of Max, along with all the happy adoption hype that November brings, living though my Gotcha Day, and life.. this movie is making me feel emotional torn open a little too often for my comfort level. I’m feeling quite the mess.
And the worst part is.. I’m going to have to see this movie.
The night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind and another His mother called him “WILD THING” and Max said, “I’LL EAT YOU UP!!” and so he was sent to be without eating anything. That very night in Max’s room a forest grew and grew and grew until His ceiling hung with vines and the walls began the world all around and an ocean tumbled by with a private boat for Max and he sail through night and day, an in and out of weeks, and almost over a year to Where the Wild Things Are And when he came to place where the Wild Things are they roared their terrible roars, and gashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws til Max said “BE STILL” and tamed them with the magic trick of staring into all their yellow eyes without blinking once and they were frightened and called him the most wild thing of all And made him King of all the Wild Things “And Now,” Max cried, “Let the Wild Rumpus Start!” “NOW STOP!” said Max and sent the Wild Things off to bed without their supper And Max the King of all the Wild Things was lonely and wanted to be where someone loved him best of all Then all around from far away across the world he smelled good things to eat so he gave up being King of Where the Wild Things Are But the Wild Things cried “Oh please don’t go – we’ll eat you up -we love you so!” And Max said, “No!” The Wild Things roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws but Max Got in to his private boat and waved good-bye and sailed back over a year and in an out of weeks and through a day and right into the night of his very own room where he found his supper waiting for him and it was still hot.