The little girl, age 11, pauses at the display. She lowers the cheap plastic sunglasses from her eyes and stares at two mannequins. An adult and a child. Perhaps a parent and an offspring. But its not their clothes that draw her attention, at least not initially. It’s their pose.

They’re holding hands.

In a film filled with emotional moments, some heavier than others, this was one that stuck with me.

Strip away the mutants with adamantium claws, the foul language, the political overtones, the blood shed and you’ll find that Logan is a story about love.

Star Hugh Jackman, in his last stint as the title character, said there are three dominant themes in the film: humanity, connection and family. More specifically that, “family is a struggle worth having.”

That’s the lesson Logan learns through the course of the movie. For Laura, the little girl, family and familial love isn’t just what she needs. It’s what she craves.

Without giving too much of the plot away, Laura is a mutant child born from Logan’s DNA making her the daughter he never he had. She was conceived in a Mexican laboratory to be groomed into a government killing machine. And that is exactly what she has become. But she has also grown into a confused child searching for some clue of her place in the world. She’s never known parental love. What she knows of relationships comes only from what she has observed and endured and what she has observed and endured has been abuse and pain and violence. So when she spies the hand-holding mannequins it is an important moment for her. It visually describes what she’s been missing. It shows us exactly what she yearns for.

That got me thinking about how a child’s definition of love comes from their observations and experience within their own environment. How my children’s definition of love come from their observations and experience within our household and watching my wife’s and my interactions.

I know they soak in everything. I can feel their eyes when my wife and I hug and a kiss. But I can also sense their focus when my wife and I disagree, when tension begins to build. I’ll be in mid-sentence, my voice on the rise, when I turn to see Baby Boy watching me. I have to stop myself and rethink my approach. Because I can see it in his eyes. He’s storing the information away to be recalled later in life when it’s his turn to love and be loved by someone other than immediate family.

It’s weird to think that their future relationships, how they handle those relationships, and the type of mate they’ll search out stem primarily from what they learn from their parents. It makes you realize just how much influence you have on your children.

I find it interesting that it took a comic book movie to remind me of that.

About half way through the second act, Logan, Laura and the third primary character Charles Xavier accept the invitation to eat dinner and spend the night in the house of a family they’ve helped out. At one point Xavier tells Logan, “This is what life looks like…people who love each other…a home.”

He may as well have been talking to Laura, to reassure her that such love exists. When it comes to our kids, it’s up to my wife and I to do the same.

Copyright 2017 Damien Alameda. All Rights Reserved.

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