Monday, August 24, 2015

Why Mufasa "Got Dead" and Subsequent Lion King Conversations with My Kids

Mufasa. Doomed.
I arrived at my parents' house to pick up my kids this evening and found them watching "The Lion King."

My first thought took me back to 1994 when I saw the movie in the theater and clung to every word spoken by a pre-pubescent Jonathan Taylor Thomas as Simba (and, yes, I cursed Matthew Broderick for taking over when Simba grew up, but I digress).

My second thought was that my kids were going to freak out over the death of Mufasa, something I, personally, have freaked out about plenty of times in my life.

When you really think about it, children's movies have softened over the years. Today I watched cartoon Simba nuzzle himself under the arm of his dead father ... nuzzle under the arm of his dead father!


Nowadays, we see a tortured ship at sea and then a mourning Anna and Elsa in a Frozen castle, left to wonder what the heck happened. The entire thing completely sails over the heads of kids (see what I did there?) because they only had one scene to recognize Anna and Elsa had parents in the first place.

Back to the present and preparing my kids for the death of Mufasa. My mom wanted them to see "Hakuna Matata," and I wanted to give the kids the opportunity to see the tragic scene if they wanted to. I told Abby the dad dies and she confirmed she wanted to see the scene. Jack -- eyes fixed on the television -- nodded yes as well.

Hakuna Matata.
I essentially did a play-by-play of the scene to keep them from getting too sucked in and, let's face it, to keep myself from crying. He nuzzled under the arm of his dead father, for Pete's sake!

Once the scene was over and I had wiped my eyes, the recapping began. There were far too many conversations to reference, but I will provide a fun overview.

Conversation 1: Who Died?

Abby: "Jack! Did you see what happened? All the animals were running and bumped into the king and then he got dead."

Jack: "Yeah!"

Abby: "And then the king killed him."

Me: "No, the king died."

Abby: "Yeah, Mufasa killed him."

Me: "No, Scar killed him."

Abby: "Yeah. Why?"

Me: "Because he was mean and he wanted to be king."

Jack: "Yeah ... and then the animals were running and there were rocks and then he was the king."

Me: "..."

Conversation 2: Cactus Butt

Abby: "And then the black ... and white ..."

Me: "The hyenas."

Abby: "The hyenas ... said ... 'I don't want to look like you, Cactus Butt!'"

Jack: "Yeah ... and then he ran away and they said, 'I'll kill you!'"

Me: "They said if he came back they'd kill him."

Abby: "Yeah! Because the king died ... because the animals were running and bumped into the king and then he got dead."

Refer to Conversation 1.

Conversation 3: Enough Baby Talk!

Abby (referring to the scene in which Simba grows up): "And then they move like this (swinging her head back and forth) and he gets a little hair and then he gets a lot of hair and he's growed up!"

Jack: "Why did he get hair?"

Me: "Because lions get hair when they get older."

Abby: "Why?"

Me: "Because it happens. Just like babies. Like Evie who doesn't have any hair."

Abby: "Evie has hair!"

Me: "Yes, but not a lot. And some babies are born bald."

Abby: "Yeah! Like ... I have some baby dolls that I don't play with anymore that just have one little curl of hair and nothing else."

Jack: "We're not talking about babies! We're talking about lions!"

Me: "Okay, okay. Yes, boy lions get manes when they get older."

Abby: "Just like babies --"

Jack: "No more babies! We're talking about lions!"

Conversation 4: Who's Your Daddy?

Abby: "Do you have a mommy?"

Me: "Yes."

Abby: "Who?"

Me (still in disbelief she does not retain this information): "Grandma is my mommy."

Abby: "Oh."

Me: "Do you know who my daddy is?"

Abby: "No."

Me: "Guess."

Abby: "Papa?"

Me: "Yes. Do you know who daddy's mommy is?"

Abby: "You?"

Honestly, how does she not retain this?

Getting Dead

I'm glad we got through our first movie in which a character "gets dead" in front of the audience. I have to say, though, the minds of children fascinate me. I had to explain to Abby that Mufasa wasn't a real being ... even though he's a cartoon. How can she not tell a cartoon isn't an actual animal? I'm not sure, but apparently she can't. I had to tell her that Mufasa was an illustration and that someone spoke for him. So now I've probably helped her through her first character death and managed to ruin the Easter Bunny in the process somehow.