Have you seen the short Disney+ film by Pixar called Float? I have watched it twice, tears running down my face. I first ran across the movie as a Facebook post by a mom who has a son who is autistic. The film is hailed for featuring Filipino characters and is an allegory for parents who have kids with special needs.
The movie’s plot is that a Filipino dad becomes concerned when his child exhibits special abilities; in this case, the baby boy happily floats. When ‘society’ sees this, the boy becomes the topic of gossip; the dad hides his son. Perhaps the dad hides him because he doesn’t want his son hurt. The dad creates a backpack filled with rocks and puts his baby on a leash to go to the park. In this way, his son appears ‘normal.’ The boy escapes, the dad drags him towards the gate. The dad gets the epiphany about how much pain his actions caused his baby; he picks his son up. The dad sits on a swing and starts swinging; at the apex of the swing, he lets his son go. In the end, the dad allows his son to be the person he is.
The short film is very thought-provoking and it tells a cautionary tale for parents of special-needs children. I applaud that, and I expand on it. Because I see the film showing how parents can squash a child’s magic through their expectation of behaviors. The film shows parents trying to save their kids from pain may cause more profound pain.
The dad saw others judging his son; he tried to change his son to fit others ‘ expectations’. Anyone watching the film can see the joy the baby had while floating and the pain he had while weighed down with rocks.
The heart of the matter is whether we accept our children for who they are, rather than trying to change them to fit our opinion (or worse yet, society’s view) of how they show up in the world.
The problem is that society likes to fit people into little boxes. Parents feel that to give their children the best chance of success; they must try to fit their children into those boxes. Each child is born with magic; the magic of playfulness, wonder, curiosity and love. Some children are also born with unique gifts. When we do not understand their gifts, we marginalize either the gift or the child. At best, the child finds ways to explore their gits on their own. At worst, the child is labeled as mentally or physically ill and kept away from society.
What if we lived in a world where differences were honored rather than feared? What if parents didn’t care about others’ gossip and loved and accepted their child, just as it is? What if parents could set aside their expectations for their child and allow their child to shine in their natural way?
I know in my heart that all children, no matter color, creed, economic, or health status are all beautiful beings, here to bring light to the world. Please, please, let the children shine!