I cry at fiction. A lot. Books, TV, movies--all the moments where authors and director and producers manipulate their audiences to tears totally work on me. I can't help myself.
So of course I have a kid who not only never cries over anything she reads or watches, but just recently yada-yada-yada-ed over the death of Sirius Black in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
She finished it last weekend, and as we saw she was near the end, we sneaked peaks at her to see if she had the same reaction many young readers (and possibly her not-young mother) do at the ending of that story.
When no tears formed, we asked how things were going for Mr. Potter.
"They were just at the Ministry of Magic and there was a huge battle."
"Oh, really? How did that go?"
"Dumbledore fought Voldemort, and it was really cool."
"Yeah? Anything else?"
"The prophecy broke and no one could hear what it said."
"We get to see that crazy lady. Bella...something or other."
"Bellatrix LeStrange? And what did she do?"
"She aimed a Crucio curse at Harry but it didn't hit him."
Oh, for pity's sake.
"Did anyone die?"
"Oh, yeah. Sirius died."
"It was sad..."
I would worry about her being a sociopath, but I think she's probably just normal. She has a soft heart; I've seen it break. But her standard response to her overwrought mother reaching for tissues during The Wizard of Oz (she'll miss the Scarecrow the most of all!) is...
"It's just a story."
Real life affects her. But Dorothy and Snoopy and Charlotte and Wilbur and Fantine and Aslan--they are not real life. She knows that there isn't really a Sirius Black, and therefore he didn't just die and leave Harry more alone than he already is.
Pardon me. There's something in my eye.
It's not a bad thing that she's a stoic sort. In fact, it has served her well on at least one occasion when she was able to perform a beautiful piece of music at a very sad occasion and not cry while those around her openly wept. She will be that go-to person who can hold herself and everyone else together and not get overly emotional when bad things happen to the good people around her.
She's kind of like her father that way. And that's a really, really good thing.
Time will tell if there's ever a movie or work of literature that ends up being her emotional downfall. As a librarian, I know where these bodies are hidden. I look at it as a personal challenge--what work will go beyond "It's just a story" and take her to that mysterious place where the teardrops fall? Bridge to Terabithia? Where the Red Fern Grows? To Kill a Mockingbird? ("Hey, Boo.") Or maybe that new classic The Fault In Our Stars?
I will stand in amazement of her if she is always able to walk that fine line between being sympathetic and caring, and wearing her heart too far our on her sleeve. And if, by her early 20s, she has not yet had a good cry at a Steel Magnolias or Terms of Endearment, I'm just going to have to bring out the big guns and tape her eyelids open and force her to watch Lost straight through to the sob-fest end.
Because if Vincent doesn't get you, nothing will.
What was the first book that made you cry? Chime in below, if you are so inclined.