Short Term 12


Somehow this old blog of mine has turned into a dumping ground for my movie reviews and not much else. That’s strange when you consider that I’ve seen maybe one movie in the theater in the past 6 months and sleep through 99% of the movies we watch at home. I guess that means that if I manage to stay awake and the movie touches me, it must really be worthwhile. And this really is, friends.

Short Term 12” is one of those movies that you will tell yourself you don’t want to watch but you absolutely must. It’s about a group foster home, and yes, it will make you cry and rip your heart out of your chest. But it’s also funny and tender and moving and full of the most miraculous performances. I loved every second of it. There was no way I would have fallen asleep when I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the actors on the screen.

I’ve always had a soft spot for foster children. I went to a volunteer orientation for a local nonprofit that helped foster babies to potential adoptive parents once years and years ago. When I came home from the first meeting, J made the family decision that I wasn’t allowed to go back, mostly because 1. I wanted immediately to foster/adopt all of the kids myself, and 2. because I don’t have the right personality to be able to separate at the end of the day. I take the plight of kids in need extremely seriously, and did even then, years before I had kids of my own.

It’s becoming increasingly harder to navigate parenthood recently. Norah is giving us a run for our money. Now that she can write with ease, she has started to leave little notes around the house for us, chiding us for parenting slip-ups or expressing frustrations. I’ve tried to talk to her but she isn’t opening up about what has prompted these letters. She takes in so much and is so sensitive and it’s so apparent to me that we’re suddenly hitting the stages where parenting is not just physically caring for their basic needs but also guiding them into maturity and adulthood in a way that doesn’t result in massive adult therapy bills. I read this quote from Anne Lamott on Sprouted Kitchen the other day that rang so true:

“It’s funny: I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools – friendships, prayer, conscience, honesty – and said ‘do the best you can with these, they will have to do’. And mostly, against all odds, they do.”
―Anne Lamott

I guess that’s it- we do the best we can with the tools we have. That’s why it hurts so much to see a movie like “Short Term 12” where the parents aren’t even able to do that much.

What are you all watching these days? Any recommendations? Any parenting tips? I’ve tried spending one-on-one time alone with each kid but am wondering if there may be something more I need to try. A book? A parenting guru? Help!


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7 Responses to Short Term 12

  1. Jen January 22, 2014 at 2:20 pm #

    Is there such thing as a parenting guru? I would love to meet that person.

    I used to volunteer for CASA in law school (Court Appointed Special Advocates). I was assigned a 15 year old foster girl who was in high school in SF and wanted to move out of her foster home. She wanted to live on her own so desperately that she took all the steps to emancipate herself from the system. I took her to open a bank account, taught her how to use an ATM, took her to the yarn store (she loved to knit), took her to the beach in SF (she had never been), and to a movie. I saw her small little bedroom in her foster home. Not many belongings, nothing new or very nice. When she finally moved in with her boyfriend a few years later I was getting married. I gave her all of my old dishes, toaster oven, coffee maker etc. She was so incredibly thankful. She was always so incredibly thankful and so honest and direct about everything she had been though and was going through. I highly recommend the program and I think most cities offer some version of it. There was the option to be a CASA for a small child (under 3 years), but I didn’t think I could handle the responsibility or the emotional impact.

    I often tell Flora-childen in our country are starving, eat your dinner. Children in our country don’t have clothes, don’t argue with me about what you are going to wear. It might be too early a message for a 4 year old, but it’s never too early to teach lessons of giving to others who have so much less.

    Thank you for the movie recommendation. I will definitely watch it and blame you when I can’t stop crying :)

    • Erin January 24, 2014 at 1:16 pm #

      You will love it- it is hopeful, too, not depressing. But beautiful!

      I remember you doing CASA. I don’t think I have it in me now but maybe down the road…

  2. Torrie @ a place to share... January 23, 2014 at 12:55 pm #

    first of all, thank you for the recommendation. you know i appreciate it.

    it is so true. we do the best with the tools we have. it is not easy… especially when you feel as if your toolbox is pretty sparse.

    when i stopped questioning myself (even though i still do, daily), when i started to trust myself as a parent… and not just a “parent” but as a parent of jacob and a parent of hailey… i developed a sense of confidence… that i am not perfect… i will make mistakes each and every day… but i am doing my best. and that is all i can do.

    (stopping, & putting intention, & consideration before immediate [emotional] reactions, has also been huge)

    • Erin January 24, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

      That is actually a goal of mine this year in all aspects of my life- putting intention and consideration before immediate reactions! That is something that plagues me almost every single day at home and at work.

      And let me know what you think of the movie!

  3. karina // curate the day January 23, 2014 at 1:19 pm #

    I like the quote by Anne Lamont a lot. It makes me think about how I saw adults when I was a child. I sometimes remind myself that what my girls are seeing is pretty different than what I think they see. Their filter is so vastly different than mine. When I am talking to my mom about instances that stuck out to me as a kid or the way I interpreted a relationship or event, it is always different than she remembers it. This knowledge somewhat eases my fears, makes me feel off the hook to a certain degree. I can’t control their interpretation of their days, interactions, and our relationship. I can only try and do my best and then fail, and then do my best again.

    A good bit of parenting advice I have heard is that if you want to get your children to tell you what is going on, talk to them during a parallel activity. Paint or craft side by side, go on a drive, take a walk, or lay on the floor listening to music together. Don’t have your eyes on them and subtly ask them questions and get them talking. When Sienna is hard to read, I sometimes ask her what she is feeling inside. She will usually look and and it will start a conversation.

    I’ll have to mentally gear up for that movie, but it does sound amazing.

    Look forward to seeing you this weekend!

    • Erin January 24, 2014 at 1:16 pm #

      You’re so right- I have such a different view on childhood events than even my sister and she is only 2 years younger! Amazing, if you think about it. I love that idea about asking while we’re doing something else. I actually get a lot more out of the kids on the drive to or from school than almost any other time.

  4. Ana February 2, 2014 at 2:47 pm #

    Thanks for the movie recommendation Erin! I know I will cry the whole time, I’m a softy when it comes to kids. I read about CASA a few years back, it has been on my mind to make time and get involved….so many kids in need, it breaks my heart. xo, ana

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