Three Parenting Lessons from Coco (and 3 Coco Printables to Colour and Create)
My love for Pixar Animation Studios is an open affair and anyone who knows anything about me knows at least that. There was a time when I was in awe of Pixar and almost blinded by Luxo Jr (the desk lamp that jumps upon the letter ‘I’ to introduce Pixar). So crazy in love was I that I got EVE (from Pixar’s WALL-E) tattooed on my nape to make my love stay forever; I hand painted Paradise Falls from the movie Up in LittleB’s room.
Then a couple of Dreamworks’ projects (How to Train Your Dragon and Kung Fu Panda to be precise) started mellowing my obsession for Pixar. However, even before I could doubt my first animation love, Pixar came back with a bang sweeping me off my feet again.
Pixar’s New Melancholic Charmer
I am talking about studio’s latest offering Coco. In just 1 hour and 50 minutes of its running time, the movie offers layers after layers of wonder. It has a captivating story, hilarious jokes, foot-tapping music, whimsical colours and never-ending emotional rollercoasters to go through. And I especially loved the parenting lessons from Coco.
Even though I am not Mexican (or maybe I am, I just don’t know it yet; those ancestry searches are always tracing a person to the most unimaginable country possible!), I was able to constantly relate to the nuances in the movie.
Like when Abuelita (Miguel’s grandmother) catches a mariachi (musician at the plaza) offering Miguel his guitar, she threatens the mariachi by hitting and scaring him off with her slipper. This was not an unusual site in India while I was growing up. I was lucky to have never experienced the slipper smack, however, I know of cousins who were disciplined that way.
Or the concept of ‘ofrenda’ on Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a bit similar to Indian ritual of shraadh or pitrapaksh, where dead family members are remembered over a period of 16 days. In this period, special prayers are done for long-gone family members with food and clothes as offerings.
And it was not just cultural analogies that kept me intrigued. I was also mesmerized by how the movie showcased various aspects of childhood and psychology in the most subtle way. Seeing the way Miguel behaved and the way adults around him behaved gave me ample to reflect upon my own parenting style. I did ask myself a good number of times as to being a parent what I would have done in similar situations.
I deliberated a bit and I speculated a bit. And then I learned a bit.
Three Parenting Lessons From Coco
Lesson 1 – All children want, is to be listened to without any judgements
I accept it – many a times when LittleB is talking to me, I have this constant urge to barge in between and say things like “it is brought and not brang” or “you could have said this instead of that.” You know, the usual mom ‘trying to get in middle of it all to make everything better’ kind of urge.
But great grandmother Mama Coco is the opposite of it. Owing to her age, she is in the state of perpetual calm. She has forgotten most of her life so she doesn’t talk much as well. So every time Miguel is with her, he isn’t cross questioned, advised or judged upon. He says anything he wants without being given tonnes of dos and don’ts; or he does anything he wants without being given a list of right way and wrong way to do that. Mama Coco has got nothing to contribute to their conversation and that is why Miguel loves spending time with her.
Get it? All children want, is to be listened to, without any judgements. Just listened to. No interruptions and no ifs and buts.
Lesson 2 – It is important that children get time to play alone, unfastened and free
In the movie, Miguel is a self-taught guitarist. He spends his time alone in a hidden attic where he practices playing on his self-made guitar by looking at old videos.
This scene gave me a lot to reflect on. I thought about all that time when LittleB was busy in her room doing something out of her own will, absolutely alone and unsupervised. Every time she plays all by herself, she is playing a new creative thing. And by ‘creative’ I don’t mean glue and stickers and arts and crafts thing. By ‘creative’ I mean something novel, straight from her imagination. Her alone time is for her to take out all of the raw ideas jumping around in her head and test them out one at a time.
Even child psychology agrees on this theory – when children play alone and without adults keeping a unwavering eyes on them, their imagination is let loose, they develop a sense of social independence and they learn to cater to their own emotions better.
The things children do when they are all alone when there is no compulsion is the thing that they truly want to learn and they can be really good at.
Lesson 3 – Narrate to your kids, the stories about their close and extended families, and then narrate some more
Watching this movie, I suddenly felt how distant my family is from our extended family.
I mean we love our parents and we make sure that we have regular audio and video calls with them. However, living almost 7000 km away from parents does take its toll. It is a bit unfortunate for LittleB whose interactions with her grandparents are just limited to weekly Skype calls and maybe once-in-a-year vacations. As for great-grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins, the interaction is much less.
If you live in the same city as your extended family, you might not understand my plight. But if you, just like me, stay in another city as your extended family, you will know that it could be taxing on relationships. There are stories from our extended families that we narrate repeatedly to our kids, in the hope of holding on to them as tightly as we can. But there also are stories that we just have to let go. Time becomes scarce, priorities become different and soon out of sight becomes out of mind.
I had almost forgotten about this ordeal till I watched Coco. When I left the hall, I was determined to give LittleB as many opportunities as I can, to get her connected to her roots. Amidst the hustle and bustle of everyday activities, we must take out time every so often, to talk to a cousin we haven’t called in a while or an aunt who always gifted us our favourite toy when we were little. And we must talk about them with our kids so that our kids can as well feel at least a part of the excitement we feel for our extended families.
How Did You Find the Movie?
Have you guys seen this movie yet? How did you like it? What parenting lessons from Coco did you take home? I would love to read your take on it in the comments below.
And just in case you haven’t caught up to the movie yet, hurry up! Trust me, you don’t want to miss this one. Because of the spectacular art it offers, it is for the best to enjoy the movie on a big screen than on telly.
Disney Pixar’s Coco Free Printables
Disney Pixar is so generous when it comes to sharing amazing movie-related activities with the fans. These three activities from Coco have caught my eye and considering how fun and resourceful they are, I surely wanted to share them with you.
Coco Movie Colouring Sheets
Coco Movie Family Tree
Have fun scribbling up names of your grandparents and great-grandparents on this printable. How about learning a new story about them each one of them while you fill up this sheet. Click below for downloading –
Pan de Muerto and Hot Chocolate Recipe from Coco Movie
Click below (on the pic) to download the recipe for the recipe of Pan de Muerto, a sweet roll traditionally baked during the weeks leading up to the Day of the Dead. There is also the recipe for a delicious hot chocolate that goes quite well with the pan de muerto.
For more movie reviews click here – Yellow Mellow Life’s movie reviews