Picture 5 Megamind : Incredibly handsome, criminal genius, and master of all villainy.

I took my two youngest girls to see this movie in the theater a little while ago and walked out thinking two main things: 1) there are definitely some interesting themes worth discussing and 2) it’s kind of a Despicable Me wannabe.

We were recently sent a copy of Megamind on DVD and have watched it multiple times since then and while my first thought is still in place, my second thought no longer is.

It’s true there’s a similarity in the two in that the guys who were “bad” were really “good” but the storylines are significantly different and I get that now.

First things first: there’s a reason it is rated PG. There are a fair amount of words used that we don’t consider appropriate for common usage in our family, but our girls have a clear understanding of that and these words haven’t become part of their vocabulary.

What has become part of their daily speech, however, are some of Megamind’s hilarious phrasings and pronunciations. Mel-ON-choly has become a permanent family word as has spee-I-der. Funny, funny.

Some of the themes we’ve explored as a family at different times have been around the idea of good vs. evil. The movie pulls out a nature vs. nurture idea. Megamind, as a baby hurtling toward earth in his space pod, ends up being raised in a prison and thus becomes a criminal while Metro Man, as a baby, ends up in the lap of luxury and inevitably becomes the hero. If you’ve seen the movie, you know that while Megamind has a strong pull to be the villain, his good nature wins in the end because that’s who he really is. Metro Man who really is a good guy just gets tired of it and chooses to walk away to follow a different career path – one he’s not good at at all, but one he loves. Really an interesting idea there in that if we are given gifts and abilities to do something, but no longer have the passion it takes to fullfill said calling, are we still responsible to do so?

When Megamind “eliminates” the good guy because that’s what he’s supposed to do, he realizes how empty his life has become without a hero to try to fight all the time. He discovers he has no purpose in life.

Then there’s the whole aspect in which Megamind attempts to create a new hero out of complete loser by injecting some of Metro Man’s DNA into him. The “hero” becomes strong and has amazing new abilities, but he’s never been infused with a proper motive to be good, so he becomes the antithesis of it.

There really are some fascinating discussion points in this movie – some that will go right over a child’s head, but that would make for a great discussion with older kids or even adults who aren’t afraid of an animated movie every now and then.

So my honest impression of this movie is this: you really need to watch it more than once to appreciate it for what it is. Consider pulling someone else in to watch it with you so you can hash out all the ethical angles of the story in the end. I think you might be pleasantly surprised by what you come up with.


On Doing that Thing I Never Wanted to Do

Three years ago I was attending a local homeschooling conference with two of my friends. We walked by a booth called Classical Conversations. They had never had a booth at our local conference before and nobody knew anything about them. I had heard about them from a friend’s blog so had a very limited understanding – enough to make me go over to the booth, drag my two friends with me, and learn more.

As we stood there falling in love with the program I heard myself say to my two friends, “I really want this program to come to St. Louis, but I DO NOT WANT TO DIRECT IT! Please make sure I don’t sign up to direct it!”

My friends didn’t want to direct it either and, as it turned out, nobody in St. Louis did. So we went home thinking we just wouldn’t be able to participate. Over the next week we talked about it more and more. We decided we’d just do the program on our own, the three of us and not be an “official” group. Then a few more families wanted to join us. I realized that if we were going to grow we needed to become an official part of the organization and so…I signed up to direct it.

I do not have a director’s personality. I don’t enjoy hosting meetings where I have to “sell” the program to a prospective family. I was not willing to pull my evenings out of the family calendar for the sake of the program. And yet our campus grew. And grew. And grew. The first year we had 11 enrolled kids. Last year we had 54 enrolled kids and watched another campus form on the other side of town. This year we have 68 which is 4 above capacity and saw another campus spin off of ours to start their own.

The first year every single time I stood in front of the group to welcome them all to CC, which I did/do every week, I was a terrified mess. Somewhere inside of me I still am, but I don’t show it nearly as much. I still don’t think that the up-front leadership gig is my best fit and I am relieved every time the opening meeting is over and the kids are on their way to classes, but I’m amazed at the amount of growth that has taken place at our campus, both in the community itself as well as personally.

Now it’s time to hand the baton over to someone else. One of my friends who was with me at our first visit to the booth and who also DID NOT WANT TO DIRECT, is taking the reins from me next year and I’m confident that this new thing for her is the right move for our program and for her. She doesn’t know this yet, but she’s already a better director than I ever was. Great things are in store for this group.

It is a little hard to let it go, but it is less so knowing I’m leaving it in very capable and caring hands. Indeed, this new venture that we started together three years ago is heading in a great direction and will continue to do so without me.

Picture 4